June 3rd, 2008
06:17 PM ET

The art of losing well

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/03/art.hillary3.jpg]
Bruce Weinstein
The Ethics Guy, BusinessWeek

Why does Hillary continue to run, when the odds against her winning the Democratic Party’s nomination are so slim? Perhaps it’s because she truly believes she is the best person to be the next President of the United States. Perhaps it’s because she is convinced that, with continued determination, she can succeed at this formidable task. But the reason could be much simpler.

She may consider losing to be a form of personal failure.

If so, she is clearly not alone in feeling this way. We live in a culture that celebrates winners and chastises losers. “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” might well be the unofficial motto of this country. Indeed, everyone loves a winner, but losers are viewed with scorn and derision. This is more than unfortunate; it’s unfair. I will argue that we should rethink losing and that we ought to embrace our losses, rather than run from them.

UCLA football coach Henry “Red” Sanders (who, not Vince Lombardi, coined the expression) was mistaken in holding winning to be “the only thing.” No one would rationally want to live in a world in which winning is our sole objective. There are other considerations that are as, or more, important than winning, whether the subject is football, corporate management, dating, or any other social activity.

The five fundamental principles of ethics are:

Do No Harm
Make Things Better
• Respect Others: 1, 2
• Be Fair: 1, 2
Be Compassionate

If winning were truly “the only thing”, then there would be no problem with hurting other people, cheating, lying, or stealing to achieve this objective. As we’ve seen too often over the past several years, however, the politicians, CEO’s, and athletes who have made a fetish out of winning at all costs have lost their careers, their marriages, their reputations, and sometimes even their freedom. The outrage over steroid use in baseball is fueled by the recognition that winning at the expense of fairness is just plain wrong. Getting rich by destroying the pensions of one’s own employees is, as Enron’s Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling discovered, winning at its worst.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of winning, but if we ignore the ethical responsibilities of avoiding harm, being honest, and treating others fairly, we will forfeit the most important thing of all: our own integrity.

With the above considerations in mind, I propose the following rules for rising to the challenge when you don’t reach a goal you’re trying to achieve:

1. BE ANGRY…BUT NOT FOR TOO LONG. It’s understandable to be upset when you lose, but dwelling on the loss, obsessing over it, or making it the focus of your life is more hurtful than helpful. As difficult as it may be to deal effectively with anger in every situation, it is in your own interest not to let anger get the best of you.

2. ACCEPT REALITY. We often tell ourselves, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Unfortunately, we have less control over our lives than we’d like to believe, and there is nothing we can do to alter this. There *is* such a thing as a zeitgeist (literally “spirit of the times”), and all the determination in the world cannot make other people do, say, or vote for something if they don’t want to. It should lessen the blow to realize that there is only so much we can do to affect the change we seek.

3. LOOK FOR THE LESSON. Yes, we learn by winning. (Think about how you surprised yourself the last time you accomplished something you thought would be too difficult to achieve.) But we also learn by losing, if we have the courage to pay attention. In looking honestly at a failed attempt to get a job or develop a romantic relationship, the lesson could be that we need to rethink our approach, or that we need to change something about ourselves. The best way to succeed next time, or to learn how to handle defeat better, is to find the lesson from our loss and take it to heart.

4. CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. The ethical responsibilities to be fair and compassionate apply to how we treat ourselves, not just others. Berating yourself for losing isn’t a kind or decent way to treat yourself, and doing so prevents you from getting back into action, which can lead to further losses.

5. KEEP ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF LIFE. How many successful people do you know who are burdened by the weight of their past failures? If you let losing get the best of you, it will be all but impossible to go forward. Allow yourself to feel angry, but accept reality, learn from the experience, don’t be too hard on yourself, and move on.

These guidelines are intended to help you make the best of a losing situation. Let’s not forget, though, that the first order of business after losing is to congratulate the winner. Anyone can win. It takes a person of courage and grace to accept defeat and honor the victor. Such a person is will move beyond loss and emerge a stronger and better person…and be a true winner.

This is an adaptation of an article that first appeared on BusinessWeek.com.

Write to Bruce@TheEthicsGuy.com.

Program note: Bruce Weinstein is a guest on CNN's American Morning, Wednesday, June 4, beginning at 6a ET

Filed under: Bruce Weinstein • Ethics • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. Steven Carson

    As we all know Hilary does not take losing well altought I comend her for her efort. In the earlest of this day when she gave the notion of the VP position. I'd thought she'd concede but, didn't. But, once agin I being a strong Obama suporter I still expected to see Obama invite her to the VP position if she wonts it to turn the presure on her instead of him. They both know that after all the redric we all still would love to see the dream team in action!

    Steven Carson

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  2. Chris

    Regardless of difference in opinion, we should stick to who is going to help us the most. Selecting a candidate in vengence just because another loses is a bit outlandish and complete negates why we are voting in the first place.

    Happy Birithday by the way Anderson.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  3. charles

    You seem not to have noticed that Hillary said she wanted her supporters to be respected! The super deligates could not wait for the final vote to be taken..very disrespectfull. They put him over the top before the last two states had a say! That showed that thewy cared nothing for her hard work or the faithfulness of her followers.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  4. Janet

    As CNN reported last night, the Clintons (and they are a package deal) haven't lost an election since the 80s, so losing well is not familiar territory for them, although they defy even common sense tonight. Tonight's speech is precisely why Barak Obama can NOT trust Hillary Clinton as VP. It's all Hillary all the time. As AC and panelists are pointing out – Obama's speech – and I believe his life view – is other focused; hers is me – me -me. Worse, even if she has it in her to serve at the will of the President (which I do doubt, especially based on her speech tonight – those were fightin' words "go to hillary.com and let me know what you think, and "do what you can" – she's still raising money!") – remember SHE put the image in the minds of her 18 million supporters, including the blue collar white rural voters she's so proud of – of Bobby Kennedy's assasination. Put her in as VP, and if just ONE of those gets through the line . Further, she shows NO evidence of reconciling the party!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Jay Hinkley

    As far as Hill being gracious tonight, I believe she was. Her speech, while the pundit's think it was selfish, I think it was important to the establisment of a viable Obama campaign. There were many Hill supporters who stated that they wouldn't vote for Obama, and I think that this speech gave those individuals the assurance that their numbers are numerous but have faith in the Democratic party and Barak Obama, because he will not forget them. So in essence, she has already started to campaign for unifying under a Barak Obama ticket!!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  6. c.gilmore375@earthlink.net

    Enough of Hillary , Lets talk about Sen. Obama's victory & the history was made today. Please lets hear about Obama.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  7. walid

    what a wonder full night tonight i feel so good anderson but i feel bad hillary did not even congratulate obama on his winning tonight but any way i hope for more of winning front mccain GO OBAMA 08 AND GOD HELP YOU

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  8. Joseph Brown

    Hillary should just accept this as a favor for America, and for the rest of the world. Hillary have been in washington for as long as my grandpa was a solider. We need change, and I saying now.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  9. Russell Sales

    Lets face it Obama is the better candidate for one reason alone ,male /female/black /green /yellow Obama is not a crook and You cannot say that for the Clinton Clan.How soon we forget our history regarding that Great group of folks.I would remind the bloggers here to go back and research the Clinton history in the 70's and then sit back and go Hmmmm

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  10. Louise

    Hillary doesn't know how to lose gracefully. She is to mean spirited. Her and her husband. She didn't even concede after he won the nomination. Obama would be crazy to have her as his vp. It would be like letting the fox into the hen house.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  11. Reg Frias

    I can only imagine what the panel's perspective would be if Senator Clinton had come out and made a larger than life speech...stealing Senator Obama's thunder...upstaging Senator Obama, etc. Maybe her rationale for not throwing her support behind Senator Obama tonight, and giving a rousing speech to "unite" the Democratic party was more so to allow him his rightful place in the spotlight. I prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  12. Angry Man

    What a mess!
    Don’t count on too much party healing. Wait till you see how many Democrats leave, no one seems to talk about that – yet. I’m betting upwards of 10 to 15%. My papers are already in the mail. The rest of the Obamacrats will be happy and healed in their own little world till November ‘08, which will be the defining disaster for the Democratic Party. A party of losers and screwballs that just can’t its act together. They’re finished; they just don’t know it yet. Wow, what an interesting mess!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  13. Bob

    Again you prove you are biased. Everytime Bill Clinton opens his mouth you think he had a melt down. What you you people smoking. Hillary was slammed by the media from the beginning. Obama is nothing more than a glorified preacher. He better hope Hillary will run as his VP, or he will be back shining shoes. As for your commentaters, Jamal you suck, you baised, racist pig. I have watched you racist act all election season, may you and Barack rot in hell. You pulled the reverse race card, and got a way with it. Jamal you should shine shoes, because you suck at everything else.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  14. Tia

    i am also concerned with Hillary supporters. Why on EARTH would you vote for McCain? Is it out of spite?

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  15. Tanya T, New Rochelle NY

    Once again, Hillary has proven, at least to me, that she cannot be trusted. Throughout the campaign she has mislead and misspoke. Tonight, she put her own interests and ego ahead of those of the Democratic party.
    If members of our party vote for McCain because SHE is not the nominee, then they along with the rest of the world will suffer the consequences of such a idiotic decision.

    God Bless You All.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  16. Sandy Sasnett

    How do you expect Hilliary to act the very same people you have on there tonight just like last night have been so bias when it comes to her I don't think that its okay to be racsit Nor do I think its okay to be shovanist either. She is a very smart lady that has done alot for our country. I don't recall anyone saying Just what has he done. This is what people are wanting to know. JUST HOW IS HE A BETTER CANIDATE FOR THE JOB. if they have similiar believes. There has been alot of poor coverage on her and you all should be ashame.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  17. Hoping for a better government WA State

    I am a 57 year old white woman. Hillary has lost my respect. She selfishly spoke of herself and did not do what she needed to do to unite the party. So disappointing.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  18. Jason--Riverview, FL

    Don't the Obama Supporters relize that Obama NEEDS Clinton and her VOters? Keep demonizting her and see what happens....

    I will either STAY HOME or WRITE her name in... I support GOING to DENVER...

    June 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  19. Mary Lou

    I am extremely disappointed in how poorly Hilary is dealing with her loss. Instead of thinking of her "party" and "country" as she claims she will do she loses an opportunity to show she has class and has been in this for her country and not herself. I'm tired of hearing we have to "give her time". Grow up. You're in politics!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  20. Lymon

    On this night, history was made in America...and Hilary Clinton managed to ignore that fact and continue, in classic Clinton form, to allow ego to lead her. Read both speeches, Obama's and Clinton's...count the number of times that Hilary said "I" and the number of times that Barack said "we" and then ask yourself who cares more about this country.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  21. Sam S.

    Ya Know, The More i continued reading about "Laura, Wheeling WV"., The More i was reminded of That Blount Yet Truthful comment that Obama Said in Regards To The Bitterness That exists in our society/ nation. That is, in all essence, EXACTLY what Obama was refering to. Without Going much further, It Sounds like She HAS lost Faith in Her Government, and The Potential For America At Large.....Shame On Her....Change Is Here....Let Us Drink Up!!! 🙂

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  22. Alexa McClain

    I believe that Obama defined diplomacy, graciousness and the hope of unity tonight. Clinton missed her chance to show her true support for unity by not answering the question "What do you want Hillary?" with the answer "I want all those wonderful 18 million people who voted for me, to now unite OUR party against the Republicans by voting for Senator Obama in November" That would have begun the process of healing.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  23. LIz

    Hilary clinton should have conceeded. We Obama supporters need to flood her websight with get out old woman. She is dividing the party

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  24. Deb

    I lost some respect for Hilary tonight. I wish she would give up gracefully. It is not always a bad thing coming in second. Share Obamas moment with him. I had tears in my eyes tonigh because I thought I would never see this in my lifetime. I am a 56 year old black woman. I now believe that one of my grandsons could grow up and become president. Hilary your time has come to an end.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  25. Jessica

    I preface this comment by saying that I'm not a Hillary fan...not by a long shot! But, one can only image the hurt that she feels right now by losing this race, having put so much effort and faith in her argument, substantiated or otherwise, that she is the better choice for the nominee. The truth remains the biggest convert she had towards her argument was HERSELF because the other party leaders certainly saw something different, causing them to support our now Democratic candidate Senator BARACK OBAMA!!!

    Her speech was reflective of her hurt, and in a few days, I expect a changed tone. She's trying to save face for the Clinton legacy, but perhaps the best way to save face is to remain graceful and cordial for the sake of the party. Go Obama!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  26. Elisabeth

    Was it me or was it a political move when they played Tina Turner after Hillary's speech, isn't she great friends with Oprah Winfrey

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  27. Dot, IL

    As a repulican who had not made up their mind , I can now say I am going with Obama in November, He gave one of the best speeches I have heard in years by making it about the American people and our country. His oponant on the other hand seem to be defiant, so why would he even offer the VP to her after her speech. I personally might reconsider if he does pick her.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  28. Eileen

    I resent the young people on your panel completely ignoring the contribution that Hillary Clinton supporters have made to the civil rights movement in the 1960s which helped tonight to even happen. Everyone seems to believe that Clinton supporters are feminists.

    Think again, people. I congratulate Senator Obama on his victory. Hillary Clinton has lost; why don't you just cut her some slack. He is going to be in the spotlight for the next 4 to 8 years.

    Lay off.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  29. Alida

    Watching the election. Just listened to Barack Obama – inspiring. Listening to all the comments and why Hillary does not give up I have come to a scary conclusion. Hillary will do everything to undermine Barack Obama's election. She will happily have McCain win so she can come back in 2012. Just watch what she is going to do – she will destroy the democratic party and then point fingers at Barack Obama and tell us "see I was the one who could win this election not Barack Obama." I hope it is not so but I suddenly go this sinking feeling watching all the on CNN tonight.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  30. antoniette


    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  31. ben wallace

    i am a democrat and will be voting republican in november .among 2/3rds of the country. america did here rev. wright..

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  32. Stephen Miller

    Two great speeches tonight!. Hillary does not have to concede tonight. One thing that some on the panel do not understand is that Hillary now has a national constituency. Jeffery Tobin does not understand much. Hillary praised Obama and Obama praised Hillary. Most of all Hillary honored the millions of hard working Americans that the party will need to win. This is more historic than this panel or any of the pundants can hardly fathom. This is a presidential and a vice presidential candidacy chosen "by the People and for the People" and Barack understands this as he has the power to "Carpe Diem" or "Seize the Day".

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  33. patti bradfield

    whatever happened to the popular vote.
    Do "US in our LIVING ROOMS" not count anymore????

    Super ????

    How about the popular VOTES OF AMERICANS.......

    I am not a HILLARY voter......NOR Obama.....


    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  34. Z. Holmes

    Hillary Clinton has continued to lose respect and taint her image with her refusal to graciously concede the election. Both candidates have made history, however her persistent divisiveness only shows that she is not really in this for the people or the country, but for her own selfish reasons. Hillary is only casting a shadow on her historical feat. If Hillary really cares about the regular American people, she will concentrate her efforts on uniting the party so that the Democrats will win in November.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  35. susan silver

    You are missing the point by making this a sexist problem. It is NOT! Itis the fact that she was a very unlikable, narcississic human being!
    it's not ever about anyone but her. And her inability to accept it and be gracious is exactly why many of us never liked her and would never vote for her. Obama's disposition, his calm and serious demeanor, his thoughtful caring presentation is why he succeeded. She makes me ashamed.. as a woman!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  36. Raymond Sorevilo

    I do believe Hillary was betrayed by her party. In saying that she has the right to the same to her party. Look, Hillary had pleged Super D to vote for her and later changed thier minds and not to mention her friends and staff who jump ship. Those acts of betrayal from the Democratic party and personal attacks by the media gave her the right to the same to tha party. I support her going to Denver and make it difficult for the party to win in November because the party did worse to her specially in Michigan and Florida votes. The supporters of Obama i find very cruel and rude for they unrelentless with thier attack even when the opponent(Hillary) is down. So if they disrespect and mock Hillary probably Obama will win the November election without the supporters of Hillary. Obama nation should not be so arrogant fools in thinking they can win without Hillary.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  37. jack

    Do you, perhaps, Michelle's dress color was intentional? It WAS purple. Oh, and Hillary claims to be a fighter and from tonight speach she affirmed it. However.....at some point the fight becomes just...well....stupid!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  38. Monica Nidiaye

    I think Hillary needed to acknowlege Obama, but she being a women that is stubborn, chose not to do just that, but she is very hurt right now and you know how children act when they don't get their way.
    well that is Hillary and I think her husband won't let her quit, because of his legacy and this is his only chance that he can get back in the white house

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  39. Peter Gevisser

    Hillary Clinton's speech this evening is proof of why exactly she should not be the nominee. I was a supporter of hers' at the inception of the campaign, but throughout, she has proved that she lacks the ability to bring people together. Unfortunately, her, as well as her husband's, rampant solipsism overshadow their great qualities. If she were to become president of this nation, she would alienate, rather than bring people together, both domestically and internationally. Barack Obama has shown again and again that he has true, heartfelt ability to achieve to bring people together, within the democratic part, across party lines and globally. Yes we can.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  40. Rosalie

    Yeah for Hillary and her speech. If we want change we need to get over doing everything the way we have done it before. I worked hard on her campaign and am proud to have supported her. She will continue to help many people every time she gets an opportunity.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  41. anna

    Hilary's performance tonight just confirmed my intial feelings about her. She refused to acknowledge Obama's outstanding victory. How selfish and egotistical can one be? Obvious, quite a bit. Why in the world would Obama put someone with such a combative and entitlement attitude on the ticket as his VP. I would not trust her. She is not the only one who can help him....I know he is smart enough to know that. I just wonder if the media is.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  42. Johanna

    I am waiting to see what comes out of the Clinton kitchen sink. Hillary seems unwilling to accept reality. She has been trying to manipulate the process for a last minute win but Hillary it is over. Step down stop embarrasing yourself. I am embarrased for you. You are embarrasing me as a woman. Let it go!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  43. Mark

    it is very selfish of Clinton to use such an important day for her selfish agenda and not that of the democratic party as she professes in the speech yet contradics by the tone of the very speech. It is obvious 17m people voted for her, it is clear a boy sold his toys and video games, she has drummed that into us forever. Obama's camp is wise enough to see she has a following. She didnt need to position herself and be stubborn today. It was a day for grace and America and certainly not her 'I' speech. She let democrats and American down terribly by her lack of grace today. She aught to be ashamed of herself for her conduct today

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  44. Sheri

    Kathy from Tennessee:

    She is no longer in the race.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  45. Byron - West Hollywood, CA

    Mrs. Clinton, do the right thing for ALL. Yes, history has been changed, and your legacy will not be dismissed. This is bigger than just you.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  46. AA-Atlanta

    Tonight was a historical moment for Americas to Unite. Senator McCain and Senator Clinton could have shown more respect for the American people including African Americans. Senator Obama is delivering a very important message for All Americans to make our country greater by all of us working as One United States of America and he always, always praise and respect McCain and Clinton. Their speeches appear to be self driven and that is why we need Change in America.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  47. rome

    Hillary made a wonderful speech and I am proud of her. Your panel is disgusting as they have been during this entire process. It has been apparent they are all Obama supporters except Carville. When you stack your commentators with anti-Hillary people you begin to sound like MSNBC. How disgusting. You all have been instrumental in dividing the party and if you think we are automatically going to support your candidate Obama you are wrong. I am leaving the democratic party.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  48. Maureen Derksen

    You call Obama the winner? Huh!

    He won but lost his shirt, one arm and one leg....Obama's "win" underscores his weakness as a presidential candidate

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  49. Pat from Montclair, NJ

    Tonight Hillary Clinton showed America how ungracious she can be. I'm glad she will no longer have the opportunity to represent the United States of America. This was Barak Obama's night. How healing it would have been for the Democratic party if she had extended her hand and showed supported Mr. Obama. His speech was about moving forward in America, her speech was about her. Very tacky!

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  50. Chuck-Florida

    Wait a minute. Yes, Obama has won and a win is a win. Let's face it. Hillary Clinton won a lot of votes. She is only a couple of hundred delegates behind. These people are not insignificant. Obama cannot win without them. I'm sorry the rest of the commentators wish she had endorsed Obama, but she will do it in her time. She represents not a quarter or a third of total votes cast in the primary but nearly half the votes. Obama needs her more than she needs him and they both need each other at some point to get stuff done.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
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