Some of my favorite quotes and sayings have come from signs I pass along the road, especially in front of churches, banks, and real estate offices. I always smile when I think about one I saw a few years ago. It said something like, “If God is your co-pilot, maybe you ought to trade places.”

I saw a new one a few weeks ago, and it struck me as both clever and profound. It’s becoming even more so the more I think about it. It said, “You win some, you learn some.”

Most of us, I’m sure, are familiar with the original form of that saying: “You win some, you lose some.” It’s a philosophical acknowledgment that we can’t win or succeed at everything we try to do. Sometimes we fail or are defeated, but that doesn’t mean we’re a failure, or that we have to accept defeat. It simply means things didn’t work out – this time. My personal belief is that we never fail unless we quit trying. When we learn from our failures, mistakes, and defeats, we become smarter, stronger, and better as we move on and keep trying. Provided we do.

A world-class speaker that I admire often talks about some of the competitions he’s been in, and always says that he learned and benefited more from the ones he lost than the ones he won. We can, too, but only if we actively pursue that goal.

It’s easy instead to make excuses, beat ourselves up, or tell ourselves that we’re just not good enough, smart enough, or fast enough to win or succeed. But that doesn’t teach us anything. It doesn’t help us change or improve. And it reminds me of another saying that goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” If we want different – better – results, we need to examine what we did, and what we can do to have a better outcome in the future. If we win, great. If we don’t, we have the opportunity to learn and improve.

In the twelve years I’ve been a member of Toastmasters, I’ve competed in a number of speech contests. I’ve won some, I’ve lost many, and I’ve learned a lot. Two of the victories that I cherish the most aren’t because I came in first place. They’re because, in both cases, the person who came in second – and who had never competed before – came up to me after the contest, congratulated me, and said, “I’ve learned so much from watching you. I’m going to do some things differently next time.” I’ve never been in a competition with either of them since then, but I’ve cheered their progress from the sidelines. And I’ve learned as much from them as they have from me.

I think I’m going to combine and expand the sayings to form a new one: “You win some, you lose some. You learn some, you teach some.” That may not be catchy or concise enough to fit on a roadside sign, but it works for me.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on July 14, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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