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Winning at Losing?

They condition us from a young age to value winners and discount (if not shun) losers.


No one gets a medal, trophy, or ribbon for last place.


You don’t get famous for losing (maybe infamous, but certainly not acclaimed and applauded).


No mama ever told her kid, “I want you to grow up to be last at everything!”


No author gets praised for being ranked #5,511,727 in books on Amazon. (Yes, one of my earlier books is currently ranked at five million something.)


We celebrate first place while perhaps giving the nod to second and third, but everyone aspires to be number one.


Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying and failing. We all love the story of Edison’s many failures before succeeding with the lightbulb. All of us should strive to do our best. But there’s only one first place.


With 33,000,000 book titles on Amazon (and growing by 50,000 per month), very few will be bestsellers.


With thirty professional baseball teams in the majors and almost 5,000 games played between them, only one wins the championship. (Go Mariners?)


So, what’s my point?


Isn’t it obvious? If you can’t be number one or win, then quit! (Nope, that’s the exact opposite of my intent.)


I actually have two points:


#1 – Comparison is a killer.


Too often, too many stop taking risks, stop trying, and give up because they know they’ll never be as good as so and so.


How sad.


Most of the best books I’ve read never made the bestseller list, but they have changed my life.


When you compare your performance, talents, or worse yet, your victories to another person and you quit because you don’t measure up, you rob the world of your gifts.


I am not saying to strive for mediocrity. Of course, do your best, even if it falls short of leading you to fame and fortune.


Simply do your best and let the chips fall where they may.


For the record, the most extraordinary man I’ve ever known (Noel Campbell) never was famous, but he impacted me profoundly.


Please avoid the comparison snare.



#2 – Remember, in the Kingdom of God, those who intentionally choose to be the last end up first in God’s eyes.


I am not sure when it began, but somewhere over the past few decades, the idea of “there are no losers” became popular. We give participation awards to everyone.


Indeed, it’s fine to acknowledge effort and recognize everyone for their effort.


But the fact is, what we’ve communicated is that there are no losers. We have taught an entire generation that it’s terrible to embrace the identity of a “loser.”


Is it?


In a society that shames losers, I suppose being a loser should be avoided at all costs.


However, in the Kingdom of God, losing means something entirely different.


Jesus said, “The servant (i.e., the lowest of the low) is the greatest.”


He said, “You die to live.” (Even though death is generally considered bad.)


Paul said, “Honor others above yourselves.”


These verses and many others challenge us to have a radically different perspective. In fact, they encourage us to be last if we want to be first.


Sometimes I wonder…


What kind of world would we live in, and how incredibly different would politics and business and, yes, the Church, be if we made heroes out of the least rather than focusing on the very few high-power, successful rock stars among us?


Okay, let’s get personal.


How would your marriage, family, and friendships change for the good if you decided to put your spouse, your kids, and your BFF first?


What genuinely great things might be accomplished by someone who is currently terrified of “failing” (i.e., not being the best) and so they don’t even try to write that book, learn that instrument, or give that presentation?


Martin Luther King Jr (admittedly famous) once said, “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.” He got that idea from Jesus, by the way.


So, be great today by choosing to lay your life down for someone else.


Accomplish something incredible by choosing to be last in line.


Go intentionally lose and see how it feels to be a winner in God’s eyes.


You have nothing left to lose if you’ve already chosen to be a loser for the benefit of others.


Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Bob

    Well said Kurt.
    Remember Earl Nightingale? He made one comment that has stuck with me all these years (since 1979-ish).
    He said “Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.”
    That succinctly combines the idea of the servant being elevated by service and Luke 6:38 “as you give, so shall you receive”.

    1. KurtBubna

      Love that quote, Bob. Great addition. Thank you.

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