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Laughing At Losing

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

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“This ain’t a funeral, you know.” – Tom Watson, American golfing great

Following Tom Watson’s near-miss at the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, he walked into the media tent to give a closing press conference. He was met with complete silence by the hundreds of reporters, who had just witnessed Tom’s gallant effort before falling one-shot short of winning.

Watson calmly sat down, smiled wanly, leaned into the mic, and offered the above quote in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. That broke the ice and the media chuckled in relief before asking Tom a host of questions. To his everlasting credit, Watson answered each one completely and politely. Not once did he make an excuse for failing to “close the deal”.

I speak from experience when I say that it is relatively easy to be a humble winner. However, again from experience, I can also say that losing with grace is another matter altogether.

Having played competitive sports for almost 50 years – and having run for political office three times – I have experienced thousands of wins and hundreds of losses. Truth be told, it is not the “thrill of victory” that motivates me. On the contrary, it is avoiding the “agony of defeat”. That’s right; as much as I enjoy coming out on top, I simply detest losing.

For that reason, I have far-too-often failed to exhibit the grace and humor of Tom Watson. Instead – and to my shame – I have occasionally allowed bitterness to rear its ugly head. And yes, I have also made more than my share of excuses over the years, especially on the playing field.

However, I like to think that I am making some headway in this area. In my three political campaigns, I was able to congratulate my opponents… and sincerely mean it. As far as sports are concerned, losing on purpose to my grandkids is starting to take the edge off my over-competitiveness.

Whatever character flaws you are dealing with, try taking a page out of Tom Watson’s book. Remember that humor goes a long way towards diffusing situations and that golf – and most other things in life – aren’t matters of life and death. In other words, try to keep things in their proper perspective and, when all else fails, SMILE!

“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NKJV)

- Rev. Dale M. Glading, President

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