Leadership / Winning / Losing / Mistakes / Failures

Leadership Moment — 7 Jan 24

Learn and Look Forward, Lessons from Losing.

Mark McMillion
2 min readJan 8, 2024

--

High School Wrestler. Photo by Sophia McMillion. All rights reserved.

Big high school wrestling tournament this weekend. My boy did well, going 7–1. But of course, what did he dwell on? The single loss. As we tend to do, or at least many of us.

My son is a sophomore and in his second year of wrestling. He learned some hard lessons last year as a freshman. Worked hard in the off-season, got stronger, studied a little bit, and is doing much better this season.

For the match he lost, he was the better wrestler. He was well ahead on points, something like 8–0 in the first period. That’s a substantial lead, real dominance. Then he made a mistake. The other kid was also relatively new to wrestling but a good athlete and a big, strong young man.

The other wrestler saw / felt the mistake and took advantage. Made his move and stuck my boy’s shoulder blades to the mat. It was a great pin and a great come-from-behind victory.

My son was embarrassed and frustrated with himself. The thoughts and frustration were ricocheting in his brain to the point of distraction. My son kept going on and on about it, even after winning his next six matches. Finally, I’d had enough and told him, “Stop. Stop talking about it. Figure out what went wrong, then learn and look forward.”

I talk about this stuff with leaders all the time. I have the same tendency to get stuck on a mistake or failure. I had someone tell me one time, “You can’t drive a car looking in the rear-view mirror.” Bam! That one stuck and I’ve used it a thousand times since. Someone else told me there’s a reason the windshield is so much larger than the back window — because that’s where you should be looking.

I gave my son the same advice I routinely have to give myself. Learn and look forward. Great advice for leaders everywhere.

That was my leadership moment today.

--

--

Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.