The Uplifting Power of “Losing!!”
“Marriage is for losers.”
Yes, I was a bit thrown off by this heading as well, but this was the title of an inspiring article by Dr. Kelly Flanagan that helped me to understand the immense benefits that “losing” can have. For the same reason, I will dare to say that good leadership is for “losers” also!!!! Now, before you start unleashing your fury on me, let me explain!! What I am referring to here has more to do with an idea and less to do with an attack. Furthermore, losing as an end result is not attractive to anyone. Think for a minute of the following questions:
Why do some of us feel the need to always be right?
Why don’t we try to see another person’s point of view?
Why do some of us feel that we don’t need to change?
Why are we sometimes so afraid to show vulnerability?
Is the answer ego? Or pride? The reason these behaviors continue is that people sometimes feel like they are losing something within themselves if they give in. The most disturbing scenarios are when people who have a position of power exhibit these behaviours. Nevertheless, losing, in this case, is not something to be avoided but rather, something to welcome as part of a process to, at times, get the desired end result.
Here are 3 actions that many avoid but can do wonders to improve our success rates and overall relationships with others:
To compromise means to settle a dispute by either side making a concession. Any concession means that you have to give up something. “Ok, I will see your movie this week, we can see mine next week.”
In any relationship, personal or professional, losing is letting go of the need to fix everything for the other person and to listen, openly, even if you don’t feel what you are hearing is in line with your thoughts. I am not telling you to agree with everything that you hear, but in order to compromise, you first have to listen. You will be better equipped to negotiate positions and interests from here.
2. SHOW VULNERABILITY
Anyone who has ever read the book or been exposed to the idea, “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, would know that the very first dysfunction is the Absence of Trust. The root causes of the absence of trust lie with team members being unable to show areas where they may not be as strong as another, and the ability to be open with one another.
Teams can overcome this dysfunction by sharing experiences during their conversations. This develops strong insights into the unique characteristics of team members including the leader. Without trust, team members stay silent – especially at meetings – in an effort to avoid conflict, leading to a false sense of harmony and eventually to bad decisions. I am not saying that consensus is always needed but commitment is a must. People don’t need to agree with everything, but there is a better chance of getting people committed if their opinions are heard.
Please note that admitting a developmental challenge may give you the feeling that you will be at a disadvantage, but this is not always the case. In some cases, you will actually be gaining trust. Let’s look at a scenario where you are interviewing two candidates for a job. Suppose you ask the question:
“Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone you found to be difficult.”
The first candidate says: “Well, there was a time in my last job where this person refused to meet a deadline with a particular task. It was actually my fault because I realized when we eventually spoke about it that she needed to analyze things carefully before making decisions. So I realized that I needed to make more realistic deadlines since she was a very analytical person.”
The second candidate says: “I don’t really find anyone difficult, I get along with everyone.”
Who would you trust? Even though this is an oversimplified example and there may be some caveats, the fact that the person was willing a admit a shortfall could possibly mean that he or she may also be willing to receive some negative feedback when given and this will be a great trait to have on any team.
In a short video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski on “Responding To Stress“, he asked the question: “How does a lobster grow”? Well, the answer to the question is that as its soft body grows inside of its shell, it becomes uncomfortable so it sheds its old shell and starts to grow a new one. This happens about 25 times in its first 5–7 years of life and this is the way it adapts to life. If we use adversity wisely, we too can grow but it means first understanding what that adversity is, and how we are perceiving it.
During my early life at primary school (4-11 years old), we played games involving marbles (“3 Hole” and “Rings”) and games involving cards (“Texas”). It often ended with the uncomfortable and sometimes devastating result of losing our marbles as well as our cards. Nevertheless, it taught us to adapt to both situations and people as we grew older. It’s a drastic difference to what children are exposed to today as video games can simply be restarted if you lose. Where is the adaptability? But all is not lost because there is still sports, physical and online educational resources and parents who do a great job in teaching their children delayed gratification and in effect, adaptability.
As adults, in addition to situations, we also must adapt to the different types of personalities and work styles around us. It is not necessary to change your personality with everyone you meet. It is simply to adjust your approach to suit the person with whom you are communicating. If this is not your habit, it will feel like you are temporarily leaving a part of yourself behind and those who we interact with will seem”difficult.” However, people who think differently and behave differently will always be around us. This makes adapting a necessary part of life and it can reap massive benefits if we take the time.
So, in conclusion, can we simply be happy for others when they succeed? Can we forego our ego for a minute and surrender the need to have the last word? Can we simply sacrifice the constant need to win? Of course we can!!! It all depends on the story you tell yourself in any of these scenarios. If compromise, vulnerability, and adaptability are unfamiliar to you, it will be a good idea to begin making them familiar as they would be keys to seeing astonishing improvements in all aspects of your work-life interactions. Listen, care for, forgive and accept others at times. Maybe, in the end, you will realize that you will not be losing at all and eventually you will have a better day, a better night, and most importantly, a better life!!
Tony Ragoonanan is the Founder of V-Formation Training & Development. As a Trainer and Performance Management Specialist, he helps individuals, teams and businesses to align behaviours and goals, create the right organizational culture and maximize capability. Outside of this, Tony is currently minding his own business and focusing on family, football and fitness!!
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