Unlucky Loser

by Ron Potter

Are you a winner or loser or do you consider your lucky or unlucky?

I remember a car commercial from a couple of years ago where a dad was walking his son back to the car after a soccer match.  The father was proudly examining the trophy his son had just earned when he saw the title on the trophy.  The label on the trophy said “Participant.”  The son had just been given a trophy for participating.  Winning or losing made no difference.  Participating was what counted.

Even Video Games

I have a game on my phone and tablet I have used to kill time.  About a year ago I noticed a change in the game.  The game had always declared me as a winner or a loser depending on whether I beat the computer during the game.  But all of a sudden I noticed that it no longer declared me as a “loser” if the computer won.  It declared me as being “unlucky”.  Now I was either a winner or unlucky, not a winner or loser.

How do you view the world?  Do you think of winning and losing or does your mind go to unlucky vs lucky?  I believe this can be critical in how you face the world.

Controlling Luck

The winner/loser thinker doesn’t like to lose.  If they find themselves on the losing end, they will begin to think about how they can work differently, think differently or use a different frame of reference to cope with losing.

Those lucky/unlucky thinkers don’t like to be unlucky either.  But if they are, there doesn’t seem to be much they can do about it.  At least that’s their mindset.  They can’t control luck, they can only be the recipients or victims of luck.

If the lucky/unlucky mindset rules your life than you can only be a victim.  Someone or something beyond yourself is to be blamed or thanked for your plight in life.

One of the more powerful and well-researched instruments in the market place is Life Style Inventory by Human Synergistics.


One of the sections they measure (for individuals, teams, and cultures) is titled Passive/Defensive.  This section includes four styles.  One, in particular, Dependent, speaks to this issue.   Here are the words that Human Synergistics uses to describe the section:

Passive/Defensive styles lead people to subordinate themselves to the organization, stifle creativity and initiative, and allow the organization to stagnate.

Why would a person subordinate themselves to the organization?  It’s easy to understand if you live in the lucky/unlucky framework.  In this world, it’s not your fault, it’s fate, it’s beyond your control.  There’s nothing you can do about it.  You’re just unlucky.

If the winner/loser framework is what rules your life, then you don’t subordinate yourself to the organization.  You’re a creative human being.  You have control.  You can make choices.

Don’t misunderstand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a subordinate in a large organization.  People often talk to me about a particular leader or boss that was wonderful.  They have high regard for that person and often the teams they were allowed to work with and be a part of.  The difference is that they felt they were in those positions because of choices they made and the free will they exercised.  They were not victims of being unlucky.

Don’t be a Victim

Being a victim is a terrible way to go through life.  Figure out who you are and where you want to go and be responsible for getting there.  It may not happen overnight.  A person said to me once that they had always viewed me as knowing what I wanted and simply deciding to go that way.  I explained that on average it took me about ten years to be prepared and shaft gears with each major life change.  And, along the way, I won some and lost some.  It was difficult and took a lot of sacrifices.  The person who made that observation was a little taken back.  They assumed that I simply made a decision, made the change, and got on with my new life.

My observation is that neither framework is without difficulties and challenges.  The interesting part to me is while you may face even more difficult situations in the winner/loser framework approach to life, it always leads to a happier life than living in the lucky/unlucky framework.

Be responsible for your own situation.  Don’t blame others or the “roll of the dice” assuming it’s random luckiness that separated people in the end.  It’s actually your framework and outlook on life that makes the difference.

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