When You Lose, Act Like a 12 Year Old

When You Lose, Act Like a 12 Year Old

Welcome to the first-ever Public Service Announcement from me (mr. bill) of The PhotoTellers/Fireside Network. This is a message about losing.

When you lose, act like a 12 year old.

You may or may not know of my middle child: Harrison. He’s more commonly know as “Big H” or most often, just simply “H.” If you missed it, that’s his show, FACE THE H, on the Fireside Network.

H is an eclectic little dude, but there is one absolute defining love in his life: SOCCER/FUTBOL. How much does he love soccer? More than country music loves trucks, dirt roads, and ice-cold beer.  More than the overworked, frantic Starbucks barista loves, “just a cup of coffee please.” More than Kanye loves hearing the name “Kanye.” Seriously . . . H loves this game!

He practices EV. ER. Y. DAY. When he finishes a game, he typically goes to the park to practice. He’s made no secret that he wants to be a Pro.

So last week he went to try out for an Olympic development team [full disclosure: this is NOT the Jr. Olympic team, nor is this the only program of its nature!]. They gave each kid a jersey with a number, sent them onto the fields, and drilled them for 3 hours. At the end of the trials they sat down the kids and parents. They called out the numbers of kids who would move on to round 2.

Guess who was NOT on that list? You got it!

H didn’t make it.

He was disappointed. It shook his confidence, which showed in his game the following day (honestly, his worst ever).

As his Dad and self-proclaimed “#1 Fan,” I’ve talked in depth about his loss. He’s taken it in stride, kept a stiff upper lip, but admitted that it bothered him. Then today, when he was at school, I found a surprise in hanging in his room. It’s the tee-shirt they gave him for try outs, pictured above.

My first thought when I saw it: “DANG! That’s a brand-new tee shirt that we bought!”

My second thought when I saw it: “There is no way in the world he would EVER wear that shirt in public or in private.” Why not?

To H, that shirt is a “participation trophy.” When he looks at it, he sees, “Good try, thanks for coming out; you lost. But enjoy this tee shirt.”

To H, the shirt is a memento of one of his first great failures. So what does he do with it? He hangs it up as a reminder, then writes the appropriate story.

He could have written a different story on the shirt:

  • You’re a loser.
  • Others are better than you.
  • You failed.
  • Try something different.
  • Hope to do better next time.

All of those stories are fatalistic, written immediately before the author types, “THE END.”

I’m proud of my Big H because he wrote a different story. And the truth is, we all fulfill the story we “write” in our minds. H’s story sounds like this:

  • I tried really hard, and I really wanted it.
  • I failed. Others were better than me.
  • I could have done better.
  • I will work harder and earn my dream of being a Pro.

At no time since the try-outs have I heard H mention anything disparaging about the judges, coaches, politics, etc. He has owned his own performance, and it hurts. Now he’s owning his future performance . . . and the results.

And that’s my encouragement to you, Photographer. If you’ve fallen short in a competition, if your clients give you a tepid reaction, if you feel like the industry is shifting without you–

Write a different story. Lose like a 12 year old.

Not that you asked, but here’s a book that has changed how I encourage H:

. . . and here’s a review of the book from a few friends and me:


Leave a Reply