Winning Experience: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Lose

Bianca Hofman
Bianca Hofman is a Dutch ultrashort-story writer, based in Barcelona, Spain. She writes super short stories about dating, culture and career. But who is Morris? Morris is Bianca’s imaginary muse, her yin, her alter ego, whatever you want to call him. "Y" means "And" in Spanish, in case you didn’t know. Yes, Bianca&Morris. Bianca has a passionate relationship with the city she lives in. Together with her sister she founded Barcelona Hofman, a flash fiction collaboration. The sisters launched Barcelona Hofman, May 2016, with an exposition during the open art gallery weekend in Barcelona. Facebook: Instagram: Twitter: @biancaymorris and @Bianca_Hofman

The competitors in us love to win and we naturally admire winners of all kind. No one wants to be a loser, right? Well, it depends, because as I’ve come to learn you can actually win a lot by losing.

Last Saturday, during my Shaolin Kung Fu class, I was sparring against two people and got swept to the ground. I felt slightly annoyed, because for one I didn’t see it coming, for two the guy who swept me had less Kung Fu experience than me, and I like to win. But when I was lying on the ground, I had to think of the advice that our Sifu (Kung Fu teacher) gave us during a Tai Chi class:

Invest in loss. Don’t be afraid to lose, because you win experience.

In Tai Chi “investing in loss” means that you don’t fight an attack. You make your opponent’s force useless by NOT using strength. To learn this, you need to let go of your desire to win or dominate others, as well as letting go of insecurities and possible fears of being weak and dominated.

It takes a lot of practice and failing to master the Tai Chi technique of not using strength, resistance and struggling. You have to be very calm and relaxed. I am not even close. Yet, you don’t have to be a Tai Chi master to invest in loss in daily life.

Many of us have a strong desire to win that helps us to reach our career goals or have success in other things we are passionate about. On the other hand, loss can also push you forward, make you gain experience, especially if you are willing to learn from it.

For example, when you are a freelancer and you lose a pitch, this experience can help you to reflect on what you need to improve or find other solutions. You might not win a singing contest, but you meet some amazing new people who share the same passion as you.

In our society, there is so much focus on winning and being number one that you almost forget that losing is part of reality. We don’t gain self-esteem by saying to ourselves that everyone is a winner. We gain it by being able to learn from losing and allowing ourselves to fail once in a while.

The fear of loss can make it so you never try out new things and a constant desire to be number one can take away the joy of just doing. Besides, not everything in life is a competition.

During my Kung Fu sparring, I failed by falling down, I was annoyed by it, but in the end I took the small loss, surprised my sparring partner with a kick from the ground and got back on my feet. And at the very least I learned something: never underestimate the opponent and the fight doesn’t have to be over when you fall.