Gracious in Defeat

October 15, 2023

It’s been interesting this year to see how team captains have reacted in post match interviews after losing a match.

Some have been quite curt and almost surly and others have been professional however upset they may have been feeling inside. In this respect, I will single out Ellis Genge following France’s clinical victory in the 6 Nations, which saw England’s biggest loss at Twickenham. Genge acknowledged his opponents’ win without any sign of rancour or ill feeling.

Being gracious in defeat not only reflects well on our character but also helps us build resilience, develop a positive reputation, and maintain healthy relationships with peers and competitors. It’s an important life skill that can lead to personal growth and continued success. Here are some tips:

  1. Reflect and learn: Take time to reflect on the experience and identify areas for improvement. Defeat can be a valuable teacher, providing insights for personal growth and development.
  2. Avoid blame: Resist the urge to blame external factors or others for the loss. Instead, focus on your own performance and what you can do to enhance it.
  3. Thank your supporters: Show gratitude to those who have supported you, whether it’s coaches, teammates, friends, or family. They have likely played a role in your journey, and expressing appreciation is important.
  4. Stay positive: Maintain a positive attitude and look ahead to future opportunities. Dwelling on a defeat can hinder progress, while optimism can help you bounce back stronger.
  5. Maintain perspective: Remember that setbacks are a part of life, and losing is a natural part of competition. Your worth as a person and position in the team is rarely determined by the outcome of a single event.
  6. Set new goals: Use the defeat as motivation to set new goals and work toward future successes. Embrace the challenge and the opportunity for growth. This is not something you have to do on the day obviously.
  7. Be a good sport: Continue to display good sportsmanship, even in defeat. Treat your opponents, referees and event organizers with respect and courtesy. However disappointed you are, it’s never good to be seen to be petulant.
  8. Support others: Encourage and support other competitors in their journeys, just as you would hope to receive support when you win. Offer words of encouragement to the winners on the day and wish them well.

Yes it hurts when TMOs, in today’s age of multi cameras around a stadium and their vast array of screens and angles, cannot spot foul play and communicate with the referee. That leaves fans feeling hard done by, not to mention the team affected. At the highest international level, small margins such as a penalty here and there or missed forward pass affect mindsets and hence final match outcomes.

For us supporters, we have to understand that regardless of how we may berate the groundsmen for not mowing the grass low  enough or the referee for not spotting  a hand in the ruck, it will not change the outcome.

Dwelling on “what could have been”, whether it’s the missed penalty or the contract we didn’t get, keeps us in the past and for some, can result in depression. We need to find a new opportunity, challenge or just look to the next match or competition. This is especially the case where it relates to our business because we need to provide for ourselves and our members of staff.

Again this may require us to be vulnerable; instead of attending network meetings and pretending that everything is fine, how about trying to ask for help. Most of us have been there, so we will understand and try to help where we can.

How do you cope with defeat and disappointments in your life?



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