What The Office teaches us about losing

I saw a quote from the TV show The Office. One of the characters was complaining that they had just lost something, and he was saying, “Why?! Why did we lose?”

And the Dwight character says, “Look, sometimes there’s no lesson. Sometimes you just lose.”

And I think this is something true about life that we kind of overlook.

The idea that you can actually do everything right, you can be living with full integrity, living the best you can, and yet sometimes you’re still going to lose!

What is “losing”? It’s when the outcome of your efforts is different to what you’d hoped for. Even if other people say that you “lost”, you must agree with them and feel a sense of loss for it to be true.

Losing doesn’t actually mean that something objectively bad happened. As you can easily see, if you wished for the outcome that happened, you wouldn’t call it “losing”.

Losing doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve fucked up, and winning doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on track either, especially when it comes to external outcomes.

Let’s say, for example, I’m racing and I win every race. It probably means that I’m choosing opponents that are too easy and not challenging, which is a breach of my integrity. So winning doesn’t mean I’m actually on track.

Whereas if I was to lose every race despite my best efforts, it would mean that I’m choosing challenging opponents. Which is much more courageous. Is that not a win?

So rather than measuring how well you’re doing based on your results, try to measure your intentions and your behavior according to your values. This way, you get to control the definitions of winning and losing, and ensure that they are something you can decide to do at any time, regardless of your competition.

Theoretically, you could always be a winner!

For more on this topic, check out my longer article “Valued Living”

One Response

  1. Another way to figure out if you won or lost is to ask, “Did I give up, or did Life stop me?” If you kept going until Life stopped you, that’s a win

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