Thursday, November 10, 2011

To Lose or To Fail?

What is the difference between losing and failing?  I bring this up because my older son was bemoaning this afternoon of his 'failure' at A House Divided, the game I mentioned in a post on September 4th. Yes, we're still playing. Despite being an "Introductory Level" game in its complexity, it still takes a long time to play, like 40 turns. The game is still ten turns from over, and from my perspective, it could still go either way.
     Now I know that nobody likes to lose. The last two times my friends and I have played Axis & Allies, my side has lost. I admit that I struggled some with keeping my calm and not ruining the event by grousing. Being a sore loser steals the fun from everyone who played. So I sympathize with my son for feeling down. What I hope to teach him is how to lose without failing; and the biggest aspect of doing that is accepting the loss and being willing and ready to go in and play again. I say this to my fencing students a lot as well. Even if you lose, learn something from it so you can do better next time. Always give your best game and expect that your opponent will do likewise. Don't expect to be handed a win, you have to earn it or it doesn't mean anything. 
      I think that failing, on the other hand, is doing the opposite of this: not taking the game seriously, not playing by the rules, not doing your best, not learning anything, refusing to try again when not guaranteed a win. In short, self-centeredness. Even in a martial art where you are in effect trying to "kill" your opponent, you can still show respect by following the rules and giving your best - respect for the opponent's person and ability. Winners and losers can do this. Only Failures don't or won't.

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