Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Ignominy of Defeat

My living room sports this well lit ‘wall of fame’ that holds  the little accolades and medals I’d win all through school and junior college. Each little ribbon has a memory and several moments attached that I will always cherish. Winning was all that mattered to me as a kid; be it my first high school brawl or my first national debate. It felt good. When you make winning a habit, things just seem to go your way.  I was dating the cutest but most poker faced girl in school, my grades were way past average, and I played the guitar, so the lime light was really never an issue. Great Success *thumbs up*

It was my last year in junior college, when things really started to go wrong. ‘Plan As’ started failing miserably and I really wasn’t used to having back up strategies already thought through. My HSC scores plummeted and the entrance exams didn’t help either. In the stock-markets, when property falls, it take jobs down with it. Well my stocks were crashing alright and the river of opportunities I proudly swam in, soon dried up. My ‘brand value’ took a beating but my investors- my folks and my girlfriend, kept the faith. But the truth still remained-   I was helpless, my confidence meter read zero, my dream college wouldn’t accept my application, I let people down, I LOST.

‘The game of life’ as most sports veterans put it, is complicated. Your half time score may suggest a podium finish, but tides turn fast in sports and you may end up partially or completely screwed. Now back in the day, my dad was a hockey jock. As the team goalkeeper, he pretty much was at the receiving end of the opposition back-flicks and the ‘critics’ weren’t far behind. The best keeper in Mumbai at the time, he seldom had a bad day at the office. But if the odd penalty did see the back of the net, the fans would boo him to oblivion. So yea, my dad and I were total screw ups at some point in time of our lives.

The strikingly remarkable yet weird part about his team was that each time they’d lose; they’d arrive an hour late for practice the next morning and have a mild work out instead of a knee jerk intense session in reaction to loosing. Now in one of the many ‘father-son’ conversations we have, I asked him what exactly they did for that hour off the field. What my dad told me that day kinda changed my life. He said, ‘’Son, we used that hour to deal with the Ignominy of Defeat’’. Say what??

The ignominy of defeat- accepting it, telling yourself you suck and starting from zero. Now most shrinks tend to leave this out of their usual motivational pep talks coz  it’s the last thing you wanna tell a guy who’s about to take a plunge off a building. Defeat is cold and brutal, but it sometimes is the only way we reach out and tap dormant abilities we never thought we had. What happens when you lose? You introspect and realize that what you were doing was neither  to the best of your ability nor even remotely on the right track. Yea, sometimes shit happens, and circumstances get the better of you, but take a moment and look back at the way you’ve gone about doing stuff. You may spot a flat that’s slowing you down.

It’s not easy getting up when you’re down and out; especially when you were most envied student, the smoothest guitarist or even the best sportsman. The problem is that success has a very dark side which even the most trained Jedi can turn to. Losing or failing doesn’t define your worth, what you do when your pinned against the wall does. I was pretty much raised by the sports psychology hand book courtesy-my dad and it wasn’t until I messed up that I finally understood why my dad’s team took that hour off.
The post defeat rehab boot camp isn’t for the faint at heart. It tests you not only physically but psychologically as well. There will be days you feel you can push through and get back to the top and some when the ignominy kicks in hard. Accepting that you suck at the time is by far the hardest thing to do. The longer you take, the harder it gets. Let it haunt you, not break you. Trust me, when the adrenaline to fight back takes over, people tend to lose their way. The ghosts of your fall always help keep things in perspective.

In our quest to achieve our Magnum Opus, we tend to ignore the little things that unknowingly give us that added edge. ‘Trust no one’, well that’s what most success stories say, I say that’s bullshit. I’ll turn 20 this December, and for the 2 decades that I’ve been around, I value all the people who make my life ride worthwhile. When the road gets bumpy, they’re the only airbags you’ve got. My dad’s team usually had convincing wins post the few losses they suffered. As for me, I pulled through the mid teenage crisis. I had quite a few people and God to thank. Defeat is a bitch, has always been. But the next time you lose, dont worry, just take an hour off…;)


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