Losers are winners

Sometimes you come to a topic for a blog in an entirely unexpected way. This morning’s comes via a ski fall, the leadership debate and the new-look Wallabies. They are all linked, trust me.

Let’s start with the ski fall. I took my kids skiing for the first time at the weekend (sheesh that’s an expensive pastime, I swear I’ve never done anything where the money just literally keeps falling from your pockets). Anyway I was doing what all parents would while taking my daughter and a friend down one of their first real slopes. Teaching them a life lesson, without even knowing it.

My daughter Audrey, inevitably, had a pretty spectacular fall and faced that moment of “get back up and push on or lie in the snow and cry.’ I said what I hope every parent would say to their child, “Hey, top fall! Means you are trying hard – if you don’t fall over at least once on a run it means you aren’t trying to get better.” In my mind I actually came up with a great line, that I sadly did not deliver, “You can’t just snow plough through life.” She heard and she got straight back up – like every kid would, and she was on her way again. Determined.

Moments later her mate Viv fell – a pretty good stack it must be said, a little more violent than Audrey’s, but no damage done. And then my heart swelled. Aud went straight up and told her what I’d said and her mate took it EXACTLY the same way. They literally picked themselves up, brushed their bums and legs and had another red hot go. I swear to God, I was so bloody proud of them both. And it wasn’t just my kids, it was pretty much every kid on the slopes. We are taught to handle defeat and falls with EXACTLY the right attitude when we are young… and then what happens? We laugh at those who fall, we snigger and tweet, we call them “losers” and we rejoice at their “inevitable” demise.

This morning, as I walked the dog I was thinking of the leadership “debate” last night while simultaneously wondering who would play No.10 for the Wallabies against the All Blacks on Saturday night. (Who said men can’t do two things at once? I was also walking, so that’s THREE). And my thoughts turned to Julia Gillard and Robbie Deans.

Both Gillard and Deans have lived through a very public and really pretty nasty campaign of “failure.” They have both “lost” their jobs in fairly brutal circumstances. And what have we heard of them since?

Nothing. Just really beautiful dignified silence. No undermining the successor, no sniping from the sidelines. Think of others in similar positions and you realise what a thoroughly decent and all too rare, example is being set by them both.

There is no doubt that much more is revealed of a person in defeat than in victory. And I think Robbie and Julia share a similar quality. They made plenty of mistakes, we know that, mistakes that have consequences. But no matter how nasty the trolls and the vitriolic commentators, I’ve never spoken to a single person who has met either who has a bad word to say about them.  “All class” is what I hear about them, time after time.

And in “defeat” they have shown their mettle again.

Gillard was the first female prime minister of this nation for heaven’s sake; history will be INCREDIBLY good to her and so it bloody well should. Deans took on the job of leading a pretty average Australian rugby team as our first ever foreign coach – from NEW ZEALAND, for God’s sake. Both had plenty of odds stacked against them, I think we will all agree.

And they gave it their best shot. They kept getting up and brushing off the snow. And now they have accepted defeat and I hope, I really hope, they are moving on. I’m not sure we need another Eddie Jones or Mark Latham, as entertaining as both are. Nope, we need better examples of how to conduct ourselves when things don’t go our way.

A few weeks back we lost a bit of business we should have won and I was filthy, really angry, for a number of reasons. And I wanted, I desperately wanted to tell them all they could go and get stuffed.

Instead I knew I had to rally the troops. I sent Kipling’s “If” to all the staff – it’s just such a bloody beautiful poem and I love the line that is written above the players entrance to Centre Court at Wimbledon;

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.”

And, as ever, you cast your mind to your own kids. Do I want my kids to be sideline critics, sitting in the stands bagging the people having a go, or do I want them to believe and strive to reach incredible heights.

How would I feel if my daughter became Prime Minister and my son the coach of the Wallabies? Surely I would be the proudest parent in the world.

I would fear, and probably hate the critics, I would be as protective as ever and when inevitably they “lost” that job, I hope I would be there brushing the snow off their bums and telling them to have another go down the slopes. And they would be winners, not losers. Forever.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

If you enjoyed this post, you can read part 2 of ‘losers are winners’ HERE

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