This is going to be a short post. Meditations, from Marcus Aurelius (He touched me on the shoulder once), is one of those books I've read dozens of times and refer to with regularity. It's a treasure trove of profound and useful thoughts. Here is one of those thoughts:
When you're consistently competing against strong competition, you will occasionally lose. It's a fact of life. I'm a big Conor McGregor fan. I know what people don't like about him and I get it. He's like Kobe in that way - you either love him or hate him.
Regardless of what you think of him, Conor was in the ring on Saturday night. He spent the last few months training, and he stepped into the Octagon with the intent to win the fight. He didn't perform as well as he needed to, and he lost. That's it and that's all. But he was in the ring.
While everyone criticizes him and talks about how he got what he deserved, he did what 99% of those people will never do in their lives - step into the arena. It has nothing to do with fighting or sports at all. Most people go through their lives in the shadows, just existing day to day. Yet, these same people feel the need to criticize and condemn men and women who put their asses on the line under the bright lights. I don't get it. It always makes me think of Teddy Roosevelt's classic quote:
They want to leave their job, but they aren't willing to work their way out of it. They want to follow their passion, but the rationalize reasons why they can't. They want to take their business to the next level, but they don't change. They want to get a promotion, but they don't do anything to add value to their company. As DJ Khaled would probably say - DON'T BE THEY.
Here's how to respond to a loss. Own it, don't lose confidence in yourself, and keep looking forward:
I love this response. This is what it's all about. Just keep moving forward. Who is anyone to tell you what you can and can't do? You lost? So what! At least you were in the game. Get better and come back again.
We only have one shot at this thing, whatever you want to do, just go try and do it. Start small, but try. Don't hide who you are and whatever you do, never ever become one of "those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." That would be worse than any loss.
Are the ones who excite you. The ones who challenge you. The ones who make you want to grow and improve. The ones who make you laugh. The ones who make you cry at the thought of losing them. The ones who force you to consider different points of view. The ones you respect and who's respect you want to earn. The ones who surprise you. The ones who are constantly teaching you. The ones you can help teach. The ones you love and the ones who love you.
If there are people in your life that do none of these things, then they don't need to be in your life. This is a reminder for me and a recommendation to anyone who reads it. Life is too short to be around people who don't make you feel alive.
Everyone can finish the phrase, but it's true. Fear is the only thing we should be afraid of in this world. When things work for me, it's when I just go straight at a thing. Not worrying about anything, just going after the goal or target without self-consciousness or concern over the outcome. When things go poorly for me, it's when I do the exact opposite and obsess over what people will think of me, or how things will turn out.
It's so much easier said than done, but it's the only path. Our fears and worries are our only enemies. Things won't always work when you take the fearless approach, but things will never work if you don't.
This is a daily practice and some days are better than others, but like anything else, it's a process.