I Hate To Lose

My son, Cole, was invited to play fall baseball. Although as a family, we have been committed nightly to sports for both Cole and his sister, Tess, since early spring, I was able to sell my wife on the idea. It was a chance for Cole to play against better competition and to prepare him for next year's season. We reluctantly agreed to have Cole play; I was asked to be the coach.

I accepted the opportunity to coach this team with mostly players I did not know. Because it was fall baseball, we did not have the opportunity to work with the team with the exception of two optional practices. I was told the leagues purpose was to build skills but mostly have fun. I am not sure the other coaches got the memo that it wasn't about winning (they seemed to find time to practice weekly).

Whether in business or sports, you need to be a stickler for the fundamentals. If you are to grow and get better in either, make sure you understand your role and responsibilities. My team was pulled together from numerous teams and the kids who were all good players but had different levels of understanding of the fundamentals. Because of the lack of preparation, we were teaching and learning on the fly. I expected and coached to the minimum of fundamental baseball such as the outfielder hitting the cutoff man on a hit to the outfield (which many of the 10 year old's had not been taught), along with who covers second base on a steal and even how to properly field grounders. This created a challenging fall baseball outcome.

By the end of each Sunday, after a long day of baseball, I went home exhausted. It didn't dawn on me as to why? After some reflection, I came to the conclusion that I hate to lose! Whether it is checkers, a game of pickup basketball, a business deal, or coaching my son's baseball team, I like to win but I really hate to lose. It is part of my DNA.

One parent whose son was on our team would continue to remind me that the goal of the league was to have fun and build skills. But the kids didn't want to lose either; they always knew what the score was. And more importantly, I don't ever want my son or myself to get comfortable with losing.

When my wife Ami and I play any game whether a board game or miniature golf, we want to not only win but do is decisively. It is friendly competition (most of the time) but each of us wants bragging rights. It is part of our DNA and we wouldn't change it because it has helped us both excel in our careers. Even Ami's father, Dr. Donald Miesner, who is a retired college professor and a Lutheran Minister, aggressively plays every family game to win. I am confident that if we were playing baseball, and he was pitching to his wonderful son in law, this 80 year old wouldn't hesitate to throw a fast ball close to my head to move me off the plate. This little "chin music" would be to ensure I don't get the advantage on him as the pitcher but also to give him the edge.

I remember having dinner with a senior executive from IBM years ago when I asked him what helped him rise to the top of IBM? His answer was simple, "I hate to lose. Winning is OK. But if I lose, you don't want to be around me." I never could understand the salesperson that was OK with losing. As a manager, I wanted them to feel some pain when they lose and take a step back and understand why; only then should they move on.

Hating to lose should be hiring criteria. If you can isolate this in a person's genetic makeup, you will find an employee that will give you all their discretionary effort to win.

In life, there are winners and losers. This is reality and regardless of the culture of trying to make everyone feel like they are a winner, it just isn't so! Hating to lose is just as important as wanting to win. Hating to lose hurts and helps you want to prepare to win.

How do you feel when you lose?

What have you done to prepare yourself to win in life and your career?