How to View Defeat and Victory

Bill Abbate

When you are defeated or lose at something, you face a choice to either lie-down or get up. Let's examine the subject of defeat more closely to see what we can learn about ourselves.

Defeat or victory

There are many types of defeats and victories in the world. You can be slowly, partially, or utterly defeated. Utter defeat in life is rare, except when it comes to death. However, this is not true for everyone, as most Christians see death as gain and not loss.

As the opposite of defeat, victory is likewise slowly, partially, or utterly gained. Like defeat, most victories in life are slow or partial in nature. There are times when we may want to accept defeat, but this is usually not the case, at least not for something important to us.

What does defeat mean to you? How do you define it? Do you see it in the little daily things in life or in the larger goals you set for yourself? Do you see it in your work, relationships, hobbies, marriage, elsewhere, or everywhere?

When you think about it, the way we view defeat connects to how we view life. The way we view life ties to our worldview, mindset, and attitude. In the end, we create the meaning of defeat by what and how we think and by the actions we take.

What are defeat and victory?

I have always loved the following quote and the way it defines defeat:

"What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better." Wendell Phillips (1811-1884)

For most defeats we face, this is a wonderful way to look at them. We should similarly use our victories, learning from them, and step to something better. We do not want to take defeat or victory for granted but use them for our good.

"Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat." Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990)

If you face a great deal of difficulty in life, don't be discouraged. We often find victory follows defeat. You could even say you can find victory in defeat!

Countless stories exist about how people have overcome defeat to achieve victory. A couple of examples are David in the Bible, and Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president. Do a little reading on each person, and you will find they overcame many defeats before making a mark for themselves.

"History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats." B. C. Forbes (1880-1954)

One of the things I find about defeat is while it can weaken you, it can also make you stronger. When something matters, defeat can make you even more determined to gain victory.

An example of this in my life was when I lost my first wife to cancer. At only 51 years old, I had never suffered such a defeat as losing her. I had prayed with all my might for her to live. Unfortunately, the cancer was so aggressive she died within six months of being diagnosed.

While it took me two years to heal, I kept moving forward, taking many steps along the way. I closed my business in Florida and took a job in Pittsburgh. While there, I gained a small equity stake in the company and met Jane, my second wife. Out of what was a major defeat in my life, I have become blessed beyond anything I had hoped. We now live back in my home state and couldn't be happier.

That huge loss and defeat in my life was an education and the first step to something better, just as Phillips stated. One verse from Psalms has remained on my mind since the loss of my first wife; "You have turned my mourning into dancing." Nothing could be more true.

Victory disguised as defeat

Let's not overlook the fact that some defeat in life is full of victory! For example, when we overcome or defeat an addiction, it can be a huge victory in our life. This is also true with defeating self-doubt, selfishness, cowardness, a bad attitude, narrow-mindedness, groupthink, self-defeating thoughts, negative self-talk, self-limiting beliefs, and brashness. These things represent only a small part of the hundred other things that harm us or hold us back in life that once defeated bring victory.

I don't know about you, but I suspect we are alike in that we will take victories in defeating ourselves all day long!

Reframing defeat in our lives

Most of us inherently realize defeat often precedes victory. Why not reframe the way we think about defeat, and see the good that can come from it?

Let's use the knowledge gained to develop a different perspective on challenges and defeat in life.

We can start by understanding:

  • Defeat provides us with the chance to learn, grow, and mature
  • Each defeat presents us with new opportunities
  • As we move forward, we move closer and closer to victory
  • When we maintain an optimistic attitude in life, we can keep moving forward through defeat
  • Many defeats are victories in disguise
  • Defeat can strengthen us

Final thoughts

So long as we have breath, defeat is never final in life. Victory is always on the other side of defeat if we stand firm in our convictions and continue to push toward what we wish to accomplish.

Always remember what Apostle Paul said to the Philippians two millennia ago:

"Focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize." The Apostle Paul (6 – 64 AD)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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