3 Things I Learned From Losing

The toughest year of my professional football career is obvious. The 2008 Detroit Lions finished the season with a 0–16 record. I was the quarterback, and it was painful to walk off the field every Sunday without getting the win. We gave it our all and had a few close games. Even now, years later, the sting of going winless still weighs on us. But, it wasn’t a total failure.

I see that season with fresh eyes now. There were so many growth moments during what, from the outside looking in, seemed like a complete collapse. We grew as men in those letdown moments. We learned a lot about each other and what hardship was like. I’m not thankful that we lost 16 games in one season, but I am thankful we never quit. Here are 3 things I learned from losing.

1. Losses are motivating.

I am super competitive. I even hate to lose at board games with my kids. But nobody goes undefeated at everything. Failing to win can be a powerful motivator. I remember coming back to training camp in 2009 as hungry as ever for victory. When you experience the pain of losing, you have two choices. You can roll over and quit, or convert that pain into energy to work harder for next time. Choose to churn losses into fuel for future success.

 2. It’s OK to believe you can win.

It’s easy to slip into sorrow after losing. Trust me. I had many low moments sitting at my locker, alone with my thoughts, wondering what little thing I could have done differently to help us win. It would have been easy to lose hope, but believing in something is powerful. Without belief that you can win, there is very little reason to strive. Believing that you can achieve higher and greater things is the first step to reaching goals. If you’re a dad, don’t let today’s failure haunt you tomorrow. Believe you will succeed.

3. It’s important to work like you can win.

Nothing is wasted. Even in losses, we can learn what is required to have future success. To lose those last 10 pounds, you may have to do those 5 a.m. jogs. To hit your sales goals this month may require a few more phone calls. Effort matters! Wanting to win isn’t the same as working to win. Sleeping in or putting off the necessary work won’t magically result in winning. Even if the results haven’t materialized yet, learn from losses, and keep working as if wins are around the corner.

Sound off: What are some losses that really stung, but you worked your way through them?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is it important for us to always try our best?”