by RICHIE SWEENEY
Competition perpetually flows through my veins. All sporting and academic challenges I am presented with inevitably turn into battles, letting my competitive personality seep through. Going head to head with an opponent, regardless of the significance, lures me into the thrill of potential victory. While this seemingly unstoppable drive for winning can be useful, it can also consume me. Herein, as I discovered through The Art of Learning, lies my fatal flaw.
Even as a child, I was immensely competitive. I can still, to this day, recall lost foosball matches against my Dad that resulted in hysterical fits of tears and hours of self pity. I was so intent upon winning that losing, in my mind, meant complete and utter failure. Such an attitude is neither healthy nor beneficial for a competitive spirit.
After 10 years had passed, I would no longer break down into fits of tears upon losing to my Dad in foosball (yes, 10 years later my Dad could still beat me in foosball). However, I still found it difficult to accept my defeats—there seemed to be no gain in losing.
Then, I was introduced to The Art of Learning. I was fascinated to discover how a defeat could be used as a positive learning experience. Prior to delving into The Art of Learning, my ego had a tendency to block the potential usefulness of losing. While I had understood that losing isn’t always a negative occurrence and tends to be a part of life, I wouldn’t let myself truly recognize and, even more important, utilize the full constructive power of loss.
Today, I still aim to win but the vital information that I now carry, stemming from The Art of Learning, helps me understand that it is more than acceptable to lose and that loss can even be a crucially helpful tool. While I am not perfect at it, I now strive to constantly invest in my losses.
My ego no longer forbids me to look back at and analyze my defeats. Confronting my defeats has morphed into an exercise that allows me to uncover my weaknesses and consequently develop them into strengths. The Art of Learning has illustrated a way in which I am able to embrace my losses and turn them around so that they become personal victories. I now pride myself on losing to win.