When things don’t go your way

Have you ever been a sore loser? Have disappointments gotten the best of you?

Maybe you applied for a job and didn’t get it or participated in a tournament and lost.

I remember the days when I didn’t get the outcome I wanted. I would shut down and give people the silent treatment.

My self-esteem was really low back then and my behavior was a bit embarrassing.

Today, I’m appreciating that I’ve finally learned how to fail forward.

What does that mean exactly? 

Failing forward is seeing our setbacks, losses, and disappointments as opportunities to learn and grow. Our focus is not on the outcome (winning versus losing) but on what we have to gain from the experience.

Here’s my failing forward story.

Last fall I entered a Humorous Speaking Contest at my Toastmasters Club.

I placed second which was enough to move forward!

Then, I won round two!

To my great surprise, I won the round THREE, which BLEW MY MIND because the competition there was pretty steep.

When they called my name for 1st place, it was like a dream.

I stood in shock with a disbelieving grin on my face as they shoved a trophy at me.

I was on top of the world!

5 months later came the 4th and final round at the southwest Florida Toastmasters conference.

I wanted to win!

I wanted that experience again of feeling like I earned something extraordinary.

The day of the competition arrived, and as I watched the other 5 contestants speak, my insecurities ate away at me.

They were all so much better than me. I don’t belong here, I thought.

When it was my turn, I took the stage and everything went off without a hitch. But I still felt disappointed. I knew in my gut there was no way I would make the top 3.

By the way people shook my hand and said “good job,” I sensed they knew it too.

My gut was right. I did not place.

It stunk.

I allowed myself to sit for the next hour in my disappointment because it’s valid to feel this way, I told myself. There’s nothing shameful about it.

Then as the conference weekend came to a close, and I drove home, suddenly the weight lifted off of me and I felt nothing but GRATITUDE.

Gratitude for all the incredible people and speakers I got to meet and learn from.

Gratitude for new friendships made, and existing ones solidified. I had so many nourishing conversations with people which feeds my soul.

Gratitude for myself for having the courage to take that stage and give my best performance, for growing into the type of person who believes in herself enough to show up in this way that I never would have a year ago.

Gratitude for the opportunity to share my smile and energy with those around me. It did not go unnoticed, as others even thanked me for it. How beautiful is that?

My place in this competition was not to win. Perhaps it was simply to show people what’s possible when you push yourself, and regardless of what happens, you can still smile and have an incredible experience.

Our lives are all so intertwined. We never know what impact we will have on others. Trust that as long as you do your best, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be, regardless of the outcome.

For it’s when we detach ourselves from the outcome, we truly live life and receive all it has to offer.

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