Monday, June 20, 2011

WHAT CAN WE LEARN BY LOSING?

I just finished watching the U.S. Open Golf tournament. If you missed it, it was truly a memorable event. I mention this because just a couple of months ago I wrote a column about the Master’s. It was not published in the paper nor did we post it as a blog. I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but not everything I write and submit is published. I know it’s crazy but that is just how things are sometimes. I decided to write this preface and attach the past column to it. The subject of my April column was Rory McIlroy. As it turns out, Rory won the US Open and almost lapped the field. His mastery of his game and of the golf course was stunning. If you are not a golfer, let me say that a US Open course is prepared in such a way as to test the best in the world. It often makes them look like amateurs. Many veteran pros end up talking to themselves. What young Rory did at the Open was unbelievable. I hope you will read the following piece, which was written in April, and see what you think. As always we appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Ron Scarbro June 20, 2011

Did you watch the Masters golf tournament last week? It usually is a fun event every year but this year it exceeded previous Masters. The drama and the excitement were palpable. While watching it I started thinking about winning and losing. I remember a statement by Vince Lombardi, I think, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” That’s pretty harsh I know, but it seems to be the prevalent thinking in most sports. “Nobody ever remembers who finishes in second place, only who won,” is another statement that flies around after important contests. These thoughts were going through my mind as I watched Rory McIlrory who started the final day with a four shot lead only to lose by ten strokes when the final hole was played.

To those among you who don’t know the players, Rory McIlrory is a twenty-one year old youngster from Northern Ireland who has been playing golf for most of his life and has been a professional for just a few short years. While I don’t know him personally, all reports are that he is a quality young man, bright, genial, and someone you would enjoy just knowing and being around. As I watched his meltdown on the final day of the tournament, I was very sad. Let’s face it, it was painful. He had led the Masters for most of the event. But, he lost. Golf, it would seem, much like life, is unpredictable. Shakespeare once wrote, “Even the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” Such seems to be the fate of Rory on the final day of the Masters.

I believe there are lessons here for all of us, including Rory McIlroy. Life is often a series of wins and losses and it has been my experience in life that I learned more from my mistakes and from my losses than from my victories. That’s good because the losses and the failures far outnumbered the victories. I am sure that is the way it is for all of us. If I am any judge of golf talent and potential greatness, young Rory McIlroy will come back stronger than ever.

In the Masters, as in most competitions, there can only be one winner. To me that does not mean that all of the rest of the contestants are losers. With all due respect to Vince Lombardi, incidentally one of my heroes, a good loser can be just a competitor who may win next time. That does not mean that we don’t try to win every time, it only means that every loss is an opportunity to learn and not the end of the world. What would happen if every time we failed, we quit? Would anything ever get discovered? Edison once said that the only difference between his inventions and others’ failures was that they just quit too soon. His stubbornness led to great discoveries.

Every day we face tests. Tests of our stamina. Tests of our ability. Often tests of our commitment. Our lives and the lives of those around us are made better by these tests. On some we succeed and on some we fail. The key is to pick ourselves up after a loss and keep going. The next win might be for all the marbles.

Ron Scarbro April 11, 2011

1 comment:

Mike Query said...

I don't think I ever hurt more for anyone than Rory on that last day of the Master's. And that wasn't the first time he had a melt down on the last day of a major. And so when he was doing so well at the US Open, I hoped with all my heart that he would hold it together this time. Wow, not only did he hold it together, he set a record low score for a US Open. I believe that this will set the stage for many more majors as it will give him the confidence that is needed. Yes, losing does teach you what you lack for winning. Sometimes it is painfull but if you pay attention, you will learn and do well in the future. Thanks for a nice article about a fine young man. Q