by Trent Rentsch
Do you believe in miracles? I’m not talking about water-walking, 1980 US Hockey Team winning, getting a parking space right up front on Saturday at Target kind of miracles. I’m talking about little day to day possibilities, the ones that might not make a difference in the long run, but at least make getting through the day easier. I ask because I think I’ve become the recipient of one. I know this might sound crazy, here it is: I’m learning to accept losing.
There, that’s it! I know, I know, it sounds impossible to me too, but it really seems to be happening. It’s going against a lifetime of having to be first, the one with the right answer, the guy who throws an unholy fit when someone says otherwise... heavenly intervention, it’s the only explanation. Well, there might be a BIT more going on...
In my usual spirit of over-sharing, I’ll admit that it has been an issue in my past, especially when it comes to my Creative work. I’m that guy who throws a lot of “me” into my work, so when it doesn’t go over, I take it personally. Sure, in retrospect, there are often valid reasons why a commercial or promo wasn’t accepted, but in the heat of the moment, uhm, let’s just say I’ve been less than gracious. God help those around me when there were no reasons other than “NO!”
I suppose the best response to the last paragraph is “DUH!” I was born and raised in ‘Merica, Land of Winners! From our first step into gym class as a child, we’re bombarded with propaganda meant to drill the message into our heads that losing is bad, winning, the only thing:
“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
-- Vince Lombardi
“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.”
“No matter how much you’ve won, no matter how many games, no matter how many championships, no matter how many Super Bowls, you’re not winning now, so you stink.”
-- Bill Parcels
“Winning takes precedence over all. There’s no gray area. No almosts.”
-- Kobe Bryant
“Winning is like shaving - you do it every day or you wind up looking like a bum.”
-- Jack Kemp
“My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.”
-- Donald Trump
“Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh.”
-- Charlie Sheen
“Get up that rope, Loser!!”
-- Gym Teacher who will remain nameless, Hillcrest Elementary, Brookings, SD, 1969
Is it any wonder that we have become a society where everyone “feels like a Winner” no matter the outcome?
Here’s the thing, whether you like it or not, a day comes when someone calls your brainchild ugly, someone uses another station’s ad rather than yours, and the hardware from the Addys goes home with another Producer. At some point, you WILL lose.
While that’s sinking in, let’s lighten the mood for a moment. Think about that last time you were a winner. The client LOVED your spot, maybe so much that the Sales Rep gave you a Ruby Tuesdays gift card, even the V.P. of Programming gave you a thumbs up when they walked by your studio window. Yeah, that was a day, good times. I can only imagine what you did the next day. I’m sure you basked in the glow of that winning day, probably even took a long lunch so you could go back for thirds at the Ruby Tuesdays salad bar... no? Oh that’s right, you were too busy scrambling to make everyone happy again, probably skipped lunch because that same Rep needed an emergency spec...
Funny thing, winning. It’s addictive. Once you get a taste, you keep pushing to get that rush again. There’s nothing wrong with that. At least, until losing completely derails you.
For someone who has become obsessed with learning over the years, it certainly took me a long time to realize that losing is a wonderful learning aid. Losing has taught me to improve my writing, my production, and my personal relationship skills... at least, when I allowed it to. But don’t take it from me:
“Winning isn’t always championships.”
-- Michael Jordan
“Winning is not always the barometer of getting better.”
-- Tiger Woods
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
-- Arnold Schwarzenegger
“You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going.”
-- Morgan Wootten
“It’s not the winning that teaches you how to be resilient. It’s the setback. It’s the loss.”
-- Beth Brooke
“When I was a kid, my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser, then there’s no way you could be a good winner.”
-- Halle Berry
Don’t get me wrong, I still have no desire to lose, and work hard to “win” each day. But when the losses come, I ask myself what lesson I can learn from them... how can they make me better? Moving forward with that mindset has improved my work, and more importantly, my mental state. A miracle, I tell ya!
Trent Creates words, voices, audio, and music. His professional home is Krash Creative. Reach out: