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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gwenin

Learning to lose.


A couple of weekends ago, my son got knocked out in the first heat of his surf comp, after 20 mins of surfing, and as his 48 years old surfer dad, I was pleased.

Despite giving up my Saturday night to fix his board, making lunches, packing the van, getting an early night, despite getting up at 4.30 am, driving to the contest, getting there in the dark so we could find the place and have a warm up surf, missing good surf at our local beach only to find tiny, weak and messy surf and only just contestable surf at the contest site, despite all that, I was pleased.

In every comp he has surfed so far, he has made the finals, so he was upset and frustrated by his early knock out. But in surfing, and in life, you can not win until you have learnt to lose. By winning, our opportunities to learn are reduced. By losing, our opportunities to examine where we could do better, what mistakes we made and how to avoid them in future, to build determination and motivation, are greatly increased.

But losing itself is not beneficial unless we have or develop the ability to learn from it. When we lose, we need to reflect upon it, and ask ourselves questions: What went well? What could we have done better? In our preparation? And our execution? How can we prevent the same things from happening again? And then we have to apply those lessons in the future, or it’s nothing but a painful exercise.

So on the long drive back home, we didn’t wrap up the loss in cotton wool and excuses, we discussed the loss, and learnt some valuable lessons. The event, and the day, was not a waste of time, it gave him an opportunity to improve, more than winning would have done.

So I went home pleased.

Him? Well, the surf was pretty good at our local beach and we managed to get a few hours in once we got home. So, although he didn’t exactly go home pleased, he at least went to bed happy!



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