2 Things Successful People Say When They Lose

Listen carefully and you can predict the eventual winners.

Football season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t have the time to sit in front of the TV and watch a lot of games, but I do love to watch the drama and strategy play out.

I especially love pre-game and post-game interviews. Players and coaches reveal a lot about their mindset in those moments. In fact, I’ve watched so many of them, I can generally predict early in the season which losing teams are going to keep on losing and which are going to turn it around—just by what the coaches say about their losses.

The two phrases or ideas I listen for in post-game interviews are the same two anybody can use—and that I use—to pick the eventual winners out of a group of losers. You can use them when you’re evaluating your team members, choosing a business partner, interviewing a job candidate, or any other time you’re trying to determine if somebody has the right attitude to win.

1. “We lost because we weren’t good enough to win.”

This is a fundamental truth. If they didn’t win, it’s because on that day they weren’t good enough to win—either physically or mentally. Winners bite the bullet and accept this fact. They don’t blame circumstances. They don’t shirk accountability.

Coaches of teams that are going to keep losing throughout the season say things like, “We’ve got two of our best players out because of injuries” or “The calls on the field weren’t in our favor today” or “Playing in the snow when it’s 23 degrees makes the players’ job pretty difficult.” Generally, the things that affect one team during a game affect both of them. Calls go one way and then another. Most teams have players out due to injury. Everybody is playing on the same field—and it’s pretty level, all things considered. Yes, sometimes, the odds are tilted in one team’s favor by circumstances beyond either team’s control, but that can change minute by minute, play by play. In the end, and certainly over a few games, it’s a wash.

Generally in life, everybody has an equal shot, as long as they’re willing to put in the effort and preparation it takes to succeed.

That’s a fact. They people who accept it win a lot more than the people who look for excuses. If the losing team had developed all the necessary pieces of success, they would have succeeded, in spite of the problems they faced.

2. “We’re going to keep improving. When we get good enough, we’ll start winning.”

Another fact. Rather than whining or wailing about whatever it is that’s holding them back, winners move right on to what they can do to increase their odds. And what they can do is improve. If you improve enough, it won’t matter that a few things don’t go your way. It won’t matter if your quarterback gets injured in the third quarter, or the ref doesn’t seem to like your team, or it snowed the whole game and your team is from Florida. You’ll win anyway.

Winners improve to the point that when challenges crop up, they’re capable of handling them without losing ground.

Your attitude when overcoming obstacles determines whether you’ll win in the future and win consistently. If you let your emotions overwhelm you into blaming behavior, you’ll miss the learning opportunity in front of you. Facing up to the facts can be difficult, but if you don’t you won’t be able to manage yourself forward to your next win. The next time you lose (and you will), keep these two facts in mind. Acknowledge them, and use them to guide what you do next.

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