Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.
The Old School tells us to learn from failure.
“Identify the wrong turns,” they advise, “and then make them right the next time.” Retrace every step, analyze the mistakes and use them as an advantage in the future.
The New School says we ought to disregard breakdowns altogether.
“Forget it,” they shout, “there’s little use in remembering what’s been done poorly.” Better to wipe away any trace of a shortfall than hang it around our neck.
The truth is, of course, somewhere in between.
On the one hand, there is tremendous value in understanding which choices led to an undesired result. By picking apart the thinking behind each decision — and, in some cases, the information which shaped it — we are able to leverage similarities between yesterday and today to produce better outcomes tomorrow.
That said, the ability to compartmentalize those shortcomings — to keep them in the past — is vital going forward. Too much analysis can lead to an unnatural fear of opportunity. The burden of knowledge may have us avoid the very element which defines any success: risk.
What once was solid — our values and goals — is cast into doubt.
Rising from the ashes is confusing, it plays on our emotions and wreaks havoc on our perceptions.
Ultimately, losing affects our will more than anything else, so we must strike a fine balance.
Facing setbacks can diminish our spirit. Embarrassment or shame may leave us sensitive to the possibility of stepping into the arena again.
Or, having been stung by bitter disappointment, we are all the more prepared to sense and seize the next opening with all the energy we can muster.
That’s how we end up with a knock out.