Beyond the Build


In the Long-Term, Losing Makes Us Winners

I think few would argue against the idea that America is a country obsessed with winning. As Robert Redford said,

The slogan I was given as a kid playing sports was, ‘It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.’ That was a lie. Everything matters in this country.

What an interesting dichotomy. We expect big innovations, yet frown upon the failures that risk makes inevitable.

I prefer to take Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” approach. The song, with lyrics by Paul Anka, is the story of an old man reflecting on his life.  He makes peace with mortality, taking responsibility for how he dealt with the curve balls life threw him. He maintained his integrity all the way.

If we do the right things, we win some and we lose some. I’ve made my share of mistakes. Without a doubt, I have always learned more from my failures than when the tide is rising. I’m not going to tell you I wouldn’t prefer winning, but to me, loss resonates much deeper, and thus long-term will help make us winners.

Too much winning can take our edge away . We grow to expect success, then take it for granted. In my time, I can’t think of a better broad example than the Big Compression of 2007. Many were not ready, and true colors showed through.

These times have been challenging for us all.  If today was our last,  I wonder how most of us would be viewed? Do we stand, perhaps a little battered and bruised, but still having done it with character and integrity, having learned in the process? Or did we take the cheap way out?

I would encourage you listen to the music of experiences, embracing success and failure as part of  a life well-lived.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.