Losses Make Us Stronger

I listened to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s interview with Charlie Rose last week. He is ending his first term as governor and running for reelection. He is also promoting a new autobiography in which he highlights both his successes and disappointments.

Here’s a statement that caught my attention:

“There are very few success stories that don’t have losses in the early chapters.”

As we have slogged through this recession, I’ve marveled a number of times at how much I’ve learned as well as how much our company has learned. I don’t ever wish for losses and setbacks, but there is no question that they can makes us better.

Here are some of the ways:

Losses can cause a stark, candid reflection of yourself or your organization. A significant setback can cause you to stop and consider where you are and what you need to change to improve things.

Losses cause a return to accountability. When you suffer a setback, it’s important to accept accountability. You won’t come back from it if you don’t make a decision to be accountable for improving matters and moving ahead.

Losses create an education about grief. Losses cause you to grieve. There’s a process of sorting through frustration, anger and shock to get to the new reality. Those who have experienced grief understand it better when it comes along again.

Losses cause a re-prioritization. Priorities can be skewed. You can put the wrong things first. Losses help you set things in the right order.

Losses provide motivation. No one likes losing. Setbacks provide powerful juice for bouncing back.

Losses broaden your perspective. They make you wiser. You get a greater sense of timing and cycles. You learn failure doesn’t have to be fatal. You learn that setbacks aren’t permanent nor are they pervasive.

Losses give you an appreciation for the present time.  Losses are inevitable. Thus, today is what is important. No matter where you find yourself, what is important is what you can do to make it better now.