Win. Or Learn. Never Lose.

I’m glad my daughter’s softball team lost this weekend.

They needed to lose. As much as I love to watch them play. As much as I love to cheer and see them succeed and win–they may have needed to lose. They needed to know how it feels. They needed to see how they handle frustration. They needed to learn how to make a mistake, overthrow their target, strike out or get thrown out at first over and over. Together.

Because. When you always win, win you never lose, then you never learn. You never learn how to lose. You never learn the lessons that come from losing. And we learn more from our mistakes than we do when we get it right. That is how our brains are hardwired. While I know this to be fact, based on things I have read, I will not take the time to look up the research and spout the evidence here. I’m sorry. You just need to trust me here. I’ve worked in the education field for over 20 years. I know things. Just believe.

There are more lessons in losing than there are in winning.

There are lessons about playing your game and not somebody else’s. There are lessons about concentration and keeping your eye on the ball. There are lessons in getting called out at first, but bringing your teammate home for a run. There are lessons in engaging in cheers that build up your teammates, not ones that tear down your opponents. There are lessons in good sportsmanship and what it really means at the end of the match to say, “Good Game. Good Game. Good Game.” And really find a way to mean it.

There are so many things to learn in this game. So many things to teach. There are lessons in every part of this game. When you catch the ball and get the double play, there’s a lesson in teamwork. When you miss the ball, there’s a lesson in knowing how to shrug your shoulders and get ready for the next play. When you have to sit out an inning, there’s a lesson in knowing how to stay in the game and the importance of cheering on your team. When you strike out, there’s a lesson in getting back out there and trying again next time. 

There are lessons in knowing how to handle pressure.

There are lessons in knowing how to think quickly and make decisions.

As a Mom on the bleachers, I even found that there are lessons in the cheering and the comments that I make from the sidelines. Win or lose, I love these words. Win or lose, these words are not just about softball.  

They are words about life.

1. Hustle out there. I say this at least 8 times during each game, encouraging these young people to get their stuff and get on the field. Which is what we all really need to be doing each day. Each morning. Get your stuff. And get in the game. Don’t lollygag through your life. You know what that makes you? A lollygagger. Don’t be a lollygagger. Hustle!

2. Good eye. Good eye. Way to watch. Wait for your pitch. It is all about making a choice in a split second. Do I swing or do I let it go? That’s just good practice for the million decisions that we all have to make each day, sometimes in split seconds. Do I hit the brake or the gas? Do I answer yes or no? Do I say that comment or hold my tongue? It is about judgement. And the more we practice…the art of watching, thinking, choosing, deciding, … the better we get an eye for what is right for us. And sometimes we let a good one go by. And sometimes we swing and miss at one that wasn’t right for us. Either way, there’s a lesson in the choosing. And deciding quickly.

3. Don’t play in the dirt! Seriously. Stay out of the (metaphorical) dirt. Let the dirt be. No need to get dirty, messing around in other people’s muck. Play your game. Get dirty by making your own plays or sliding into home. Besides, when you are playing in the other people’s ‘dirt’, you are missing your game. Pay attention. That kind of dirt is just going to get you in trouble. Or beaned with a (literal) ball.

4. Way to be there!  You showed up. You were in just the right place at just the right time. You did your job. You were a part of your team. You moved and got in front of the ball, made the catch and were a part of the solution. Show up. Be there. Be a Make It Happen person, not just a Watch It Happen player.

5. Be ready! I usually throw that one out there as a reminder to these young people when I feel like they are distracted. Usually, when my first basegal can’t help herself from eavesdropping on the base coach’s instruction to their runner instead of having her eye on the batter. You have to be ready. You need to be watching. You need to be checking the runners and knowing where the play is. Looking around. Being aware. Ready for the pitch. Ready to make the catch. When we aren’t ready, we get blindsided. We get hit with the unexpected and we get caught unaware. Sometimes we need a reminder to stay focused on what is important right in life right now so we can be ready for what comes our way.

Yep, I’m a tiny bit glad my daughter’s softball team lost this weekend.  Not because I like to see them lose. Heavens no, I don’t enjoy that. At all.

I just know they had some things to learn.

And it is not about the losing, really. You either Win or you Learn.

Understand that there is always something to work for, always something to learn. We can always get better at things we do well. Learn from mistakes and try again next time.

As complicated as life can be, this really is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.

Engage each day in action words to make good things happen.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.