How do you handle victory and defeat

‘No victory or defeat leaves you as you were.’ I saw this on a calendar and it really got me thinking.

The funny thing is, both can be positive, both can be negative, it all depends on point of view and attitude. Whenever the Olympics are on I am glued to the TV as much as I can be!

I PVR stuff and stay up way too late to catch up on the days events. I just cannot get enough of it. It is like life in a capsule.

I am always fascinated to watch how people handle victory and defeat – it’s amazing! Have you ever watched a favoured athlete get silver? I am sorry, but a silver medal in the Olympics is a massive victory. Yet I have seen silver medalists look like they were in last place.

Yes, I know everyone wants gold and that’s great, but sometimes the difference is so small it cannot even be comprehended by human terms – it requires a sophisticated stopwatch. The pressure of a whole country, your family, friends, coaches – I get it, it can be a lot – but silver is hardly defeat.

And I have watched people defeated, totally in last place, be ecstatic with the chance to be at the Olympics and to represent their country. Perspective is everything!

I have seen this too in our gym. People that come to us and make a serious lifestyle change – change the way they eat, the way they move, increase their flexibility, improve sleep patterns, have more energy, need to buy different, better fitting clothes, and so much more. And then be devastated, totally disappointed because the scale has only dropped 5lbs.

Normann Stadler won the Hawaii Ironman twice. The year after he won it the first time and while preparing to defend his title, I saw an interview with him. He said something like, “My father, my family and my whole town are expecting me to win again so that’s another rock I have to carry.” I knew he would lose. I knew it. And lose he did! In a grand fashion – two flat tires and a total meltdown on the highway, cursing and swearing and throwing his $15,000 sponsored bicycle into the lava fields in disgust. It is now the number one thing that comes up when you Google his name – not that he won twice, but that he threw a fit after a flat tire. His victory the year before had not left him the same hungry, hard working athlete, it had broken him.

Some folks get defeated and they are done never to be seen from or heard from again. Some people get through a defeat and it fuels them relentlessly to work harder, train harder, dig deeper and find that spirit within that will turn that defeat into victory. My good friend Janelle Morrison, a triathlete that I used to train with when we had the same coach, was nearly killed in a head on collision when a texting driver crossed the centre line and knocked her car 30 ft. down a bank. Her list of injuries was so extensive (broken ankle, femur, hip, back, arm, concussion, diaphragm torn, stomach pushed up and through moving her heart over). Doctors were certain she would never walk properly again, but she did not see it that way. She pushed her rehab to the absolute limit, and not only walked but raced again, placing second in an Ironman in the women’s pro division.

So how do you handle victory and defeat? Does victory make you crave more victories? Does defeat make you want to win, or quit? Do you see right past your victory and find failure?

I hope that you celebrate your wins and that your defeats move you to excellence.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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