My friend Peter wrote to me about a recent Psychology Today article outlining “seven skills of resilience.” While he appreciated the article, he wondered about the deeper significance (and – my interpretation – constructive value) of hardship and suffering. We may not choose to seek out hardship, suffering, losing; but when they inevitably find us, they serve a purpose if we’re willing to learn from them.
Peter used to coach 14- and 15-year-old boys’ soccer. At the beginning and end of each season, he gave the players a self-evaluation form, the purpose of which was to help the boys understand their strengths and weaknesses, and measure their progress. One of the questions on the self-evaluation read:
The game is over and your team has won. Which of these scores represents the game you want to have played? 6-4, 3-0, 2-1, 10-0
Peter wrote: “Almost everyone, every time, picked the 2-1 score. I used this response to explain why I arranged games with either stronger or weaker opponents, so that we neither were winning or losing most of the time. I wanted them to gain strength and confidence in the face of challenges. Most of them got the concept and I am still inspired by their awakening.”
Losing well is a skill. It is also a wise teacher.
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