Winning In Defeat

Fatherhood is tricky for me sometimes. In attempts to instill personality traits in my children that should be lauded, I find myself taking inventory of Me, Inc. to ensure that I’m exhibiting said behaviors as well. This is where we all queue up Migos “Walk It Talk It” or Michael Jackson “Man In The Mirror”. I guess that all depends on your age and/or mood. 

I would like to believe that I’ve been well equipped to handle life’s many challenges or keep my head held high in the face of defeat, but that strips away the essence of what defines us as human. We have natural reactions to stimuli in our environment, yet we practice certain behaviors that better prepare us to react accordingly. One negative emotion that older generations often mistakenly associate with millennials, is how we handle disappointment. 

A week before the holiday break late last year, Zora had her very first chess competition. She’s currently a member of her school’s chess club and has been excelling at the mind sport since she started at the beginning of the school year. The team ramped up the amount of practices days to twice a week a month before the tournament from the single day they were accustomed to. Practice at school aside, her and I were playing at home at least once a day after school. She went from getting destroyed by me after our nightly meals to me eventually conceding defeat after most matches. Win or lose, I stressed the importance of sportsmanship after each mentally exhausting game. “Look your opponent in the eye and shake their hand.” Easy enough. Sounds like a minuscule gesture after a win, but one of the more difficult obstacles to overcome when you lose.

Zora not doing as she expected during her chess tournament harkens me back to a position at a former company that I was interviewing for in 2017. I had the experience and necessary competencies that was required to succeed in the role. I went through two rounds of interviews, had a very detailed 90 day plan if I was hired, and even incorporated one of my favorite books, The Power of Habit, throughout the interview process. I was even encouraged by my direct manager, who happened to be hiring for the role, to apply. My manager explained during one of our weekly feedback sessions how I was a great fit for the position. Even with the odds ever in my favor (what up Katniss Everdeen), I wasn’t selected for the position. The interviewers felt that I didn’t convey being strategic enough during some of my responses. That’s fair, having been in a role that forced me to be more of a tactical manager, the input was well received on my end. What really didn’t sit well with me was the office politics that ensued during the entire process and behind the scenes manipulation. I took that revelation more harshly than the news of not being offered the role. These things happen. Corporate America is designed and maintained for these nefarious acts to continue to thrive. I could’ve caused a raucous, but took the “L” like the king I am and never mentioned a word of it. I’ve since moved on and I’m satisfied with the company I’m at currently, but no where near content. Not getting that well-deserved position revealed to me more of who I am and who I want to be, more than it revealed who others were truly all along.

But I will not lose. For even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned. So it evens up for me. - Jay Z

I have two little people that are constantly growing physically and emotionally that watch me non-stop. They’re looking at my reactions, my behavior, and my demeanor especially when I’m not aware. I have a remarkable wife that not only feeds off my energy and drive, but focuses on whether my actions are matching my words. To be human is to err indeed, but these asks or requirements, if you will, are not that intense in the grand scheme of things. What I’m teaching them through my reception of disappointment is the same way I learned from my father. I didn’t listen to Old Man Areh nearly as much as I should’ve growing up. He will probably attest to this, but where I lacked in use of my ears, I very much picked up the slack in the use of my eyes. I watched that man intently and often not intentionally. What I learned was how to dream big, but work towards that ambition. His experiences with life’s blows taught me that disappointment is less of a footnote in our life’s book and no single chapter should be dedicated towards it. Win, lose, or stalemate, I pray Zora and her brother proceed with heads held at their highest because they learned from a man who refuses to let defeat lower his own.