Sometimes You Win Sometimes you Learn

I recently read John C. Maxwell’s book: Sometimes you win Sometimes you Learn; Life’s greatest lessons are gained from our losses.

In my typical book summaries, I will provide a basic outline of the book’s key concepts and my highlights (takeaways) from the book.  The bolded areas below are statements or quotes that I really found to be above and beyond and by highlighting them they are put into my memory.

John’s motivation for this book, is for us as the readers to see the value of losing and keeping the proper perspective in losing.  Like the title states, it is not losing, it is learning. If we can remember that losing is learning, then our perspective changes on how we approach success and failure in our lives.

When you’re losing, everything hurts.

  • When we win, nothing hurts; when we lose, everything hurts. And the only time you hear someone use the phrase its only a game is when that person is losing.
  • Failure is far more common than success; poverty is more prevalent than wealth; and disappointment is more normal than arrival.
  • The most important person you can ever talk to is yourself, so be careful what you say.
  • The most important person that you will evaluate is yourself, so be careful what you think.
  • The most important person you will love is yourself, so be careful what you do.
  • Professional basketball player Jerry Stackhouse said this:  Win and forget. Lose and forget.
  • A loss doesn’t turn into a lesson unless we work hard to make it so.

Humility: The Spirit of Learning

  • Pride is concerned with who’s right. Humility is concerned with whats right.
  • Success lies not in eliminating our troubles and mistakes but in growing through and with them.
  • Show me a guy who is afraid of looking bad and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.
  • Wisely humble people are never afraid to admit they were wrong. When they do it, it’s like saying they’re wiser today than they were yesterday.

Reality: The Foundation of Learning

  • Its easier to go from failure to success than it is from excuses to success.
  • Life is difficult.  Life is difficult for everyone.  No one escapes problems. Its called life.
  • Most people spend their entire lives on a fantasy island called “Someday I’ll”-Dennis Waitley.
  • You can deal with reality sooner, or later the reality will deal with you.

Responsibility: The first step of learning

  • Responsibility is the most important ability that a person can possess.
  • Nothing happens to advance our potential until we step and say “I am responsible.”
  • Truett Cathy (founder of Chick Fil A): “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”
  • Losses are inevitable, but excuses are optional.
  • Failure isn’t the best teacher. Neither is experience. Only evaluated experience teaches us.

Improvement: The focus of learning

4 response methods to problems:

  • Blow up: react with anger and resentment
  • Cover up: Hide your mistakes.
  • Back up: Withdraw and distance ourselves.
  • Give up: Throw up our hands and quit.
  • Success doesn’t always bring growth, but personal growth will always add to our success. 
  • The most important question you can ever ask yourself.  It’s not what am I getting.  It is what am I becoming. 
  • Improvement demands a commitment to growth long after the mood in which it was made has passed.
  • Losers don’t lose because they focus on losing. They lose because they focus on just getting by.
  • The most common trait in successful people: They have conquered the temptation to give up.
  • Small differences over time create a big difference.  Improvement is achieved in inches, not giant leaps.
  • Knowledge may come from study, but wisdom come from learning and improving in the wake of your mistakes.

Hope: The motivation of learning

  • Losses in life are never fun, but there is one loss no one can afford to experience, the loss of hope.
  • Hope always has a future.
  • Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the faith that, together, we can make things better.
  • Optimism is a passive virtue, hope is an active one.
  • It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope.
  • Positive thinking must be followed with positive doing.

Teachability: The pathway to learning

  • Possessing the intentional attitude and behavior to keep learning and growing throughout life is teachability.
  • Living to your full potential requires you to keep learning and expanding yourself.
  • Mark Murphy: founder and CEO of Leadership IQ. His organization tracked twenty thousand new hires over a three-year period and found that 46 percent of them failed (got fired, received poor performance reviews, or were written up) within the first eighteen months on the job. The main reason for the failure was not a lack of technical competence. Weakness in that skill area was a problem for only one person in ten.  The main reason for failure, 90% was because of attitude.  Top reason for failure was lack of teachability. 26 percent of the people failed weren’t coachable.
  • Being teachable requires two things: Capacity and attitude.
  • It’s good to remember that in science, mistakes always precede discoveries.  Be teachable.
  • As long as I am still learning, I will always have something to say and be able to add value to others.

Adversity: The catalyst of learning

  • People begin to make the biggest changes when they hurt enough to have to.
  • Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and then become more extraordinary because of it.
  • Circumstances does not make the man; it reveals him to himself. That is true only if you allow it to.
  • Circumstances are the rulers of the weak, but they are the instruments of the wise.
  • Turn your wounds into wisdom.
  • Some people treat adversity as a stepping stone, others as a tombstone.

Problems: Opportunities for learning

  • Positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about a problem. The two together determine what you do about the problem.
  • Lou Holtz said this: Don’t tell you problems to other people. 80% don’t care and the other 20% are glad you have them.

Bad experiences: The perspective of learning

  • Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experiences–Dennis Waitley.
  • Failure is the cost of seeking new challenges.
  • Ninety Percent of those who fail are not actually defeated they simply quit.
  • Succèss lies in having made the effort; failure lies in never having tried.
  • Most failures are people who have the habit of making excuses.
  • Ignorance means you didn’t have the necessary knowledge.  A person can hardly be blamed for that. Stupidity is the result of knowing what to do but not acting upon that knowledge.

Change: The price of learning

  • When you aren’t willing to pay the price of learning by changing you will eventually pay the price of losing.
  • Leaders resist change as mush as followers do, unless the change is their idea.
  • For everything we gain we lose something.
  • No change means no growth.
  • Most people would rather change their circumstances to improve their lives when instead they to change themselves to improve their circumstances. 
  • The person who insists on using yesterdays methods in today’s world won’t be in business tomorrow.
  • To grow you must be willing to let your present and future be totally unlike your past. 
  • Chance occurs only under these three conditions:
  • They HURT enough that they have to.
  • They LEARN enough that they want to.
  • They RECEIVE enough that they are able to.
  • You are only one defining decision away from a totally different life-Mark Batterson.
  • Change occurs by following this process: New Information is accepted. A new attitude is adopted. A new behavior is practiced. New conviction influence others. 
  • When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at actually begin to change.
  • Successful people are realistic about their problems and find positive ways to approach them.
  • Successful people don’t allow their feelings to determine their behavior. They behave their way into feeling so that they can do what they must to grow and keep moving forward.
  • Successful people do two things that many other people don’t: They initiate action, and they finish what they start. 
  • Unlearning is a prerequisite for growth. 

Maturity: The value of learning

  • Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom though failure. We get very little wisdom from success.
  • If I had my life to do over again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.
  • We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. 
  • Maturity is knowing that you need to give up things today for greater gains tomorrow.

Winning isn’t everything, but learning is

  • Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can’t lose-Bill Gates.

8 reasons why people prevent themselves from winning tomorrow:

  • Been there done that: They hit a milestone and make it a tombstone. Lose their curiosity.
  • The banquet tour: When you win, you start speaking about how you won. You forget to keep doing.
  • Success gurantees success: Just because you won, it means you can do one thing well, when you win maintain your perspective.
  • The momentum myth: Peoples natural inclination after a win is to take a break. Don’t do this, capitalize on the win and use the momentum.
  • One hit wonders: You are successful once and you are still trying to live off of that win.
  • The entitlement mindset: People who have something that they didn’t win for themselves start thinking they are entitled to more. To keep winning you must stay hungry. It’s why inherited businesses go out of business.
  • Playing not to lose: Don’t become to cautious and defensive. Try to win, don’t try not losing.
  • The arrival plateau: Some people become so focused on a goal that when they hit it they give up. Don’t give up set new goals.
  • Greater learning comes from greater thinking.
  • You haven’t learned anything until you take action and use it.
  • Risk taking with ability to leads to increased learning and success.

I hope you enjoyed this quasi summary.  I encourage you to read the book.  It is a quick and easy read with so many more insights.  Please share this with someone who you think could get something from it as well.

To your success and your future.

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