I just “lost” out on a competition and now I have a choice:
- Easy: Whine and bitch and moan.
- Hard: Learn from the experience.
- Harder: Do better next time (based on what I learned).
For #1, go tell your grocery clerk (since you only have about 7 minutes there, he’ll smile and frown and shoo you away). For #2, how much do you want to learn? How much did you really want to win? For #3, how much are you willing to work to mend that gap between losing and winning? #1 is possible, #3 is impossible if you’re not willing to learn and work and do.
John Muldoon wrote an excellent article over at Monthly Experiments called “How to Never Fail at Anything, Ever Again.” By simply calling this an experiment and not getting ourselves too down, we’re going to reengineer the task, we’re going to make it repossible. I just want to get you in the right perspective because I’m not even going to call your/our/my not-winning-the-contest a failure but rather an “experiment” that you can learn from. So again, what did you learn from the experience?
- Before you look at who won, are there obvious aspects of your entry that could have been improved? Why weren’t they? Not enough time? Funds? Experience? Audience? Clarity?
- Did you have a clear message?
- Was your content (or project/business/plan/outline) interesting, compelling, funny, or whatever it needed to be? In other words, did you have the all-important Unique Selling Proposition?
- Did you present that message and content in an irresistible way?
- Did you show that there was a willing audience out there and that you knew how to reach them?
- Did you analyze the competition and demonstrate how/why you were better/different/alternative?
- Did you convey that you were the one who needed to do this? Based on experience, access, platform, etc.
- Who won? What did they do, in your opinion, that got them the prize? How about the judges, did they comment on why the winner won?
- Were you in the right contest?
I’m not kidding about that last one. I don’t mean you entered a cat in the dog show, but was your project truly ready? Let’s say it wasn’t. Congratulations for getting yourself out there! You gave it a shot. You didn’t win. You’re now going to take your project back to the drawing board and work on it, improve it, refine it, maybe even drastically change it. But don’t just change it because of this one contest. Enter some more contests or competitions (or job interviews or dates or whatever). It’s good practice.
Losing is an experience. It’s actually an extremely helpful experience if (and only if) you take it and use it to improve.
- Possible: lose yesterday’s contest.
- Impossible: win yesterday’s contest.
- Repossible: win tomorrow’s contest.
In related news: I Won. Now What?