I recently listened to a Joe Rogan podcast where his guest Maynard James Keenan mentioned this idea in passing, and it really struck a nerve with me. It’s just one of those little nuggets of truth that instantly puts things in perspective, turning what would appear to be a negative outcome into something entirely positive.
He said his father taught him this when he was growing up (big thumbs up to his dad). The lesson was this:
You can either win or learn.
Think about this for a moment – this is brilliant on so many different levels. If you win, sure, you’ve won but you didn’t necessarily learn anything. It feels good though – after all, isn’t winning the point? Hmmm, I’m not so sure about that. On the other hand, if you lose, you didn’t win per se, or did you? Because losing is an opportunity to learn what you did wrong and grow. It’s an opportunity to reach a higher state of self-actualization, to become a better, smarter, and more effective person. To be more equipped to win next time.
I want to make a distinction here – I’m not talking about winning as a selfish act of triumph, I’m talking about winning in the broader sense of accomplishing something – hopefully something that will ultimately benefit multiple parties. Getting the resources you need to achieve something for the greater good is winning.
Failure truly is an opportunity, it’s just a question of perspective…