How Can You Turn A Loss Into A Win?

In life, there are times when you experience a loss. How can you take the sting of that loss and channel it into a win?

No matter how successful you happen to be, there will inevitably be times where you experience a setback. Or maybe your life has more than the usual number of setbacks.

How you respond to these obstacles can be crucial. In fact, it can be the difference between long-term growth and stagnation. Being able to channel your pain, anger, misery and unhappiness into productive action is important. Even if it doesn’t bring about eventual success — and it might — it can help with your outlook.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’

Not that it is easy. A loss can be devastating, and it can leave you feeling powerless, even when you aren’t. It can sap your energy and your motivation.

So what can you do in that instance? Are there any tips that have helped you in the past? Are there strategies that you can think of that might help you recharge, in order to fight another day? And not just to fight, but to come out on top in the future?

How can you turn a loss into a win?

Related questions: How do you deal with loss? How can we turn sadness into constructive action? Why bother? What can you control? When is it useful to fail?


2 thoughts on “How Can You Turn A Loss Into A Win?”

  1. About a decade ago, because grant funding had dried up for my line of work, an employer laid me off from an advocacy job I was very good at. While unemployed, in addition to doing a traditional job search, I decided to embark on a project that would help brand my type of advocacy for potential employers to see and understand.

    The project: videotape interviews with people on the meaning of home and how they felt about the dramatic increase in homelessness over the prior two decades. But my interviews were not going to be with people in the field of affordable housing and homelessness — my former (and hopefully future) colleagues. Nope. Instead, I spent the summer going to various places around the Twin Cities and Rochester, MN and held a sign reading, “Got 5 minutes? Talk about home?” I asked self-selectors — from very well-off people to those actually staying at a shelter that night — the following questions:

    • When you think of “home,” what do you think of?
    • Is there a particular memory that pops into your mind when you think about home?
    • A full-time, minimum-wage worker must work over 80 hours to afford an average 1-bedroom apartment in this community. What do you think of that?
    • Homelessness has quadrupled in Minnesota over the past 20 years. How does this make you feel?

    My thought was that the first two questions would establish the importance of home on a personal level so that when I asked the more fact-based questions, people would respond from the heart. And it worked!

    Each evening, after collecting several interviews, I edited the videos into a montage and posted them on YouTube. That summer, I talked to over 180 people and posted clips from nearly every one of them. The lesson: that regular folk, when asked to connect with a need (i.e., home), would show great empathy for those without.

    I must say that while I was dealing with the stress of not having a job that summer, this project was one of the most rewarding efforts I’ve ever embarked on.

  2. I think there are two ways to do this, each important, and each unrelated:

    1) Don’t give up

    The loss is not the end, giving up is the end. While a loss can be draining and dispiriting, give yourself some time to mourn, then put it behind you and start again.

    2) Approach the situation differently

    Thinking creatively is not a skill that is taught in any class I have ever had, yet the ability to do so is one of the most important I can think of. If a particular approach isn’t working, trying out a different one, even if it seems ridiculous at first, can give you the spark you need for a different outcome. In an odd way, a loss can be beneficial if it allows you the ability to do this rather than sticking with a method that is not working well.

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