A hot topic lately has been the rising backlash against the ideology of “There Are No Losers” that some educators and other proponents are advocating. In an effort to raise (or protect) the “self-esteem” of children, there has been a trend of giving trophies to every participant in an event or game, thereby avoiding any “bad feelings”. Two notable examples that have been in the news recently are the High School that cancelled Honor Awards Night so as not to “offend” those who had not earned any honors, fearing it was “too exclusive”. And another school that went to great lengths to explain there would be “No Winners or Losers” on Field Day, stating “the urge to win” would be kept to a minimum.
Kristin Lamb, Social Media Jedi, Author, and WANA- Mamma, wrote an excellent blog post recently that raises the red flag on this trend, and rightly so. As a Stepmom myself, it got me to thinking of how to balance the desire to protect my Stepson from harm, but allow him to make his own choices and learn his own lessons. Most of the time, his Father and I are able to strike a balance, but admittedly, it is very difficult to resist the urge to interfere sometimes.
I am certain the proponents of the “No Winners/No Losers” ideology have the best interest of the kids at heart. I really do. Avoiding abuse or extreme situations should definitely be the goal, but perhaps it has gone too far in the opposite direction. Could it be that trying to homogenize every experience so that no one ever “feels bad” may do more harm than good?
I can only look to my own experiences, to know that sometimes, failure can be the best thing that can happen to you. When your plans fall apart, a relationship fizzles, or you lose a job, it can feel like the end of the world while you are going through it. But often, that failure leads to something better that you would never have found, if you stayed on the path you were on. When I was in college, financial/family issues caused me to leave and return home. My plans for my future were destroyed. I took a menial job that I hated, trying to figure out my next step. But guess what? That job was where I met my first husband, whom I was married to for over twenty years.
Years later, financial difficulties and a sudden layoff caused a crisis once again, so figuring we had nothing left to lose, we moved to from California to Georgia to start over. Long story short, we started a successful business, and a few years after my husband died, I met my current husband.
Life is an intricate chain of events, a string of successes and failures. Learning how to cope with disappointment, how to manage negative feelings, is extremely important. Sometimes, that failure or disappointment is the catalyst to moving on to the best time of your life. Avoiding “Bad Feelings” at all cost is doing a disservice to yourself, or the person you are overshielding.
I believe the Key to Everything might just be Balance, because everything’s a trade-off (click here to read my post on that subject). Would you want to watch a movie, or read a novel, where nothing bad ever happens? Or watch a reality show or sit com where everything goes smoothly and nobody wins or loses? Okay, maybe once. But I bet it would get boring fast.
The human condition requires us to learn to cope with struggles and enjoy our triumphs. So, don’t count Failure out entirely. It just may have a surprise or two in store for you.