On losing: Why there are no participation trophies in wild/STRONG country

First, let me be clear, I hate to lose – at anything. Family Monopoly games have turned violent in my household. Growing up with three brothers who all share my disdain for failure, made every day a competition. We didn’t grow up in an era of participation trophies and being told that “having fun” was the most important aspect of competing. We didn’t grow up in an era where games like dodgeball were banned on playgrounds. We were molded by violently competitive recess football games, full-contact capture-the-flag that often ended in near fist-fights (actual ones took place after school) attempts to not just win, but humiliate your opponent – in everything. Winning wasn’t enough, you had to make sure your opponent and all his friends knew you had won – knew that you were the better man. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. In sports, in life – across the board.

 Josh Bridges - Crossfit Regionals 2015

Josh Bridges - Crossfit Regionals 2015

Losing happens – and even the man obsessed with the glory of victory – has to be able to confront (but never accept) failure. Smiling and acknowledging your defeat – just having fun – is not how we do this. This breeds an acceptance of losing that leads to one thing in your life – more losing. So how do you confront that nausea-inducing virus we call “losing”?

 Crossfit Games 2012. It's not about this feeling, it's about what happens next.

Crossfit Games 2012. It's not about this feeling, it's about what happens next.

1.  Why? You have to be able to be honest with yourself when confronting failure. Part of our founders quote you will read on the back of our “Adventure” hoodie says “Live your life free of excuses”.

When examining the reason behind your defeat, making excuses will get you absolutely nowhere. You MUST examine the true reason for your loss. Did you train hard enough? Was your opponent better than you in all facets of the competition? Were you mentally tough enough? Did you give up? Knowing why you failed is the most important way to ensure that the next time out you don’t repeat this disgusting performance that earned you nothing.

2.  Acceptance: This one is tricky – you must accept that the defeat occurred, without accepting it as a future reality, or being accepting of it as something that is “ok”. You lost, now what the fuck are you gonna do about it? Your answer should be “I’m gonna read step 1 and I’m gonna address my faults and shortcomings.” Never be ok with losing, always see it as the first step on a path to improvement.

3. Refuse to set realistic goals: Competing against a person more experienced and simply better than you? Guess what? He or she is a human being who puts their pants on one leg a time just like you. How did they become “better” than you? Figure out the answer to that question, shelve your pathetic excuses and get to work. Stop setting goals like “I want to finish in the top 10” and start striving for victory. Realistic goals will get you small, pathetic, realistic results. Fuck realistic. Watch this video from our friends over at Operation Werewolf if you are having a hard time figuring out what I mean.

4. Get to work. It’s easy to come off a defeat and say “I’m gonna take some time off”…this is probably the reason you sucked it up in the first place. You think the person who just whipped your ass is taking time off? If he is, guess what? He fucking earned it, you didn’t. Get back to work and stop using your failure as an excuse to fail more.

 Winners have earned time off. What did your loss earn you? Nothing. Get back to work.

Winners have earned time off. What did your loss earn you? Nothing. Get back to work.

If you use these steps to deal with losing, the experience can be beneficial to you. This is one of the reasons competing is so important. Testing yourself in battle is the only way to experience the thrill of victory – and the only way to figure out the shortcomings you MUST address to improve. Read more about the importance of competing, here.

I attended the MBS Crossfit Turkey Challenge this weekend in Colorado.

 MBS Crossfit Turkey Challenge 2015. Author with athletes and coaches from the wild/STRONG Tribe.  The "Adventure" hoodie  was obviously a big hit this weekend, as was the  women's "Definition" t-shirt.

MBS Crossfit Turkey Challenge 2015. Author with athletes and coaches from the wild/STRONG Tribe. The "Adventure" hoodie was obviously a big hit this weekend, as was the women's "Definition" t-shirt.

As hard as it is to watch others compete while I stand on the sidelines, it is inspirational to see so many willing to put their training to the test. To all those who participated, good work and congratulations to all who stood on the podium – to the rest of you, read above and get to work on making sure this weekend wasn’t just about “having fun” and getting a participation trophy.