This blog is posted in conjunction with our Don’t Be A Loser! podcast, just released.
We are told that we should want to be winners, but what is a
It is not something that can be measured in terms of wealth
and titles. The United Kingdom has recently seen dozens of disgraced
politicians and bankers sent into premature retirement. Most of them have
lavish pensions, and those with public honours usually retain them, so in terms
of money and status they ought to be winners – but they still look like a bunch
On the other hand, a little girl both of whose legs are
amputated might seem like a tragic figure – until you learn that she is doing a
charity run with artificial legs to raise money for disabled servicemen...
Cross has winner written all over her.
So being a winner or a loser is not about what happens to
us. It is about how we respond to what happens.
We all suffer setbacks in this life, winners and losers
alike. Indeed, winners may suffer more setbacks because they attempt more. So a
man is not a loser because he fails. What makes a man a winner or a loser is
how he reacts to that failure – especially when it is the ruin of plans he made
himself and in which he had confidence.
It is the mark of the loser to look for someone else to
blame for his failure, whether it be God or the Devil, the banks or the
government, or some minority group – “the Jews”, “the immigrants”, “the
freemasons”. Racists and conspiracy theorists are therefore losers by
The winner, by contrast, takes responsibility for his
failure. He reflects on it. He asks himself – ruthlessly – what he did wrong.
He resolves not to do it again. As a result, he is less likely to do the same
in future – and more likely to find success as a direct consequence of his
failure. He is actually a stronger man for having failed. That is why he is a
He is easy to knock down but hard to keep down. Every defeat
brings him closer to victory.
The biographies of those who are generally called “great
men” – the Napoleons, the Churchills, and the like – reveal that they usually
experienced more failures than successes. What made them great was that they
did not wallow in their failures, looking for excuses. Instead, they tried
again – not stupidly repeating what they did before, but learning from their
Indeed, it is only when people encounter adversity that we
find out whether they are winners or losers. Churchill’s greatness was
established not when he became a Nobel Laureate and a Knight of the Garter in
the 1950s but in the 1930s when he persisted in telling the truth at the price
of exclusion and abuse and apparent failure.
At the risk of cliché, whether you are a winner or a loser
is a not a matter of external success or failure but of mental attitude.
Winners are those who see themselves as winners.
This does not mean the self-delusion of those who blind
themselves to all reality, who refuse to admit it when they have failed, but the
acceptance of responsibility for failure and the resolution to do better in
future. Those who take responsibility may lose a thousand times but still win
in the end.