5 Things to Learn from Tech’s Loss

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I am a proud Red Raider this morning! Well, I’m a proud Red Raider every morning but this morning our basketball team is giving me all the feels. Those boys played their hearts out last night and gave the game everything they had. Yes, I said boys… I’m finally to that age where I look at college-aged kids and see them as kids, and not the mature adults that I once thought I was when I was their age!

I stayed up to watch the basketball championship (which I’ve never done because I’m not really a basketball person), and I watched Matt Mooney and his team throw everything they had into each and every play. Then, I watched their hearts shatter and my heart broke for them! Not in a way that your heart would break over your team losing, but as a mom watching these boys experience one of their first real disappointments in life. Oof! That was hard! I hope their mamas were waiting for them when they got off the bus to give them a hug and make it all better!

Texas Tech
Photo Credit: NY Times

I was talking to Landry about the game this morning over breakfast. He wasn’t allowed to stay up and watch because he has our state standardized testing all day today and tomorrow (don’t get me started, that’s a different post for a different day), and as we talked about how amazing second place is for our underdog team, I found myself reflecting on my time at Tech, and what all can actually be learned from coming in second.

Going to Tech wasn’t actually my plan when I was applying for college. All of my friends were going to A&M and I was fully convinced that’s where I was supposed to be. I actually had a horrible attitude during my college tour at Tech because it was so far away from EVERYTHING and Lubbock really isn’t a very exciting town. Plus, it actually has real dust storms! I had great grades and was in the top 25% of my graduating class. In Texas, you had to be in the top 10% to guarantee acceptance to a State school and my district was a very high performing district. Everyone in my graduating class could out test the majority of other seniors from other districts in our state but that did not get me into A&M.  Reluctantly, I choose Tech.

Texas Tech
Dust storm rolling into Lubbock. Photo Credit: National Weather Service

Luckily, I wasn’t alone and made the journey to the other end of the state with a couple of really close friends where we regrouped together. We realized we were exactly where we were meant to be on our very first night in Lubbock. My roommate and I (who was one of my closest friends and grew up on my street with me) agreed to be the girls a friend of ours and another guy were required to bring to their fraternity rush party that night. I know what you’re thinking. RED FLAGS! Two brand new college girls going to a frat party! RUN!

We were greeted by some of the nicest guys I have ever met! Our “dates” for the evening promptly ditched us for girls who would make out with them (the guy from our high school had been friend zoned years ago) so two other guys escorted us back to our dorms, where get this, they did not try to take advantage of us!

That group of guys and the girls we made friends with on our dorm floor became our college family for four years, and many of them have become life long friends! We attended every football and basketball game with these people and Tech quickly became not only my team but a part of who I was! Our fans have always been a little extra, as witnessed on tv this week. But when you’re in a town that is surrounded by hundreds of miles of nothing but cotton and oil fields, getting excited about your team is about all there is to do!

Texas Tech
The people who became my college family. Apparently cutting up your pictures and turning them into collages was a big thing for me!

Going to Tech wasn’t my first experience with coming in second place, but it was the most significant and life-changing.  It was the first time I realized that just because you want so badly for something to happen, or to come in first, if you come in second place it’s because you were meant to learn something from it and use the experience to grow. It’s nothing to be sad or ashamed of!

So What Can We Teach our Kids about Tech Losing the Big Game?

1. If you don’t loose or suffer disappointments in life, the wins won’t be as significant!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life from repeatedly being the looser (pun intended) is that, if I didn’t loose big before I finally won, the win wouldn’t have been so sweet. My victory wouldn’t be nearly as appreciated if I didn’t turn my disappointment into drive.

I don’t know if grit is something that gets ingrained into Red Raiders when we drink the Lubbock water, or if I just wound up at Tech because that’s where that part of me was supposed to be, but either way, I see so much of myself mirrored in Texas Tech Athletics. I always joke that we are the under-dogs and heartbreak team. Texas Tech is kind of known for our crushing losses, but the thing we always do is use that loss to fuel the next win. We come back harder and more fierce every time.

My life has worked out very much the same way. When I lose, I do it BIG. I was horrified when I didn’t get into my top choice school, I was shocked to my core when I lost my job, I learned to budget only after blowing every cent I had after racking up credit card debt, I learned that birth control and antibiotics don’t mix when I found out my strep throat was really a baby… the list goes on and on! When I lost my job six months ago, one of my favorite Realtors took the time to call me and tell me “anyone who has ever been good at what they do has been fired several times.”

Not Strep Throat!
Not Strep Throat!

I usually spend a day or two on the pity pot and feeling very much how our poor team looked last night, but then I put my big girl panties on and use the loss to drive my next win. And you know what? If I hadn’t fallen flat on my face first, the win wouldn’t be as significant to me.

2. Losing Allows You to Find Room for Improvement.

We all know that person who ALWAYS WINS, right? The one who so effortlessly makes it through life, as if the seas part for them everywhere they go? You know what they don’t have that you do? The ability to see where they can improve. One universal truth for all of us is that none of us are perfect. We can always find a way to improve our game, our craft, or just who we are as human beings. However, what I’ve noticed about those people who never loose, is they never take the time to look back at where they’ve been and put real thought and reflection into self improvement.

If we loose the right way, we will use the experience to reflect and learn. Athletes will take the game tape and analyze it, looking for skills they need to improve on. Texas Tech has now been gifted with an off season that they can use to study their game and come back next season ready for a come back! While cameras don’t follow us around in life, you can always play back your mental tape and reflect on what you could have done differently to ensure your next win.

One of my favorite self-reflection pictures! That little medical failure lead me to exactly where I was supposed to be!

This is something I’ve been dealing with on a personal level with mom politics these past few weeks. After some ridiculous mom drama, I had a moment of clarity. Not about the sitaution, I was in at the time, but one that had occurred a year ago. This time last year a mom tried to talk to me about what was to come and I laughed her off. I should have been a better person and a better friend to her back then but I was kind of crappy. That moment started playing in my mind like an old game tape with big red circles and arrows pointing to the moment I messed up. Guess what? It’s never too late to apologize, so that’s what I did… an entire year later. You can bet, the next time I find myself in a similar situation I hope to act differently because that’s what happens when you’re given the opportunity to loose and reflect!

3. Losing Teaches us Humility!

Let’s go back to that person from the above example. Let’s call her Barbie so we don’t offend anymore Karens. Barbie wins all the time. She’s a sports star, always won the solo in choir, got straight A’s without studying. She got a full ride to college, and then immediately landed her dream job. Now that she’s in her 30s or 40s, Barbie has 3 kids that look like dolls, and still is a size 0 with big boobs and rarely works out! Her yoga pants are just to wear around town, not to the gym. You’re totally picturing her, aren’t you? And probably not picturing Barbie herself, but the Barbie in your life.

Here is what Barbie is not: she is not a humble person. She may act like it to everyone’s faces, and at first comes across as a really nice person, but eventually, you’ll see it. She will slip up and show you how she really feels about her status in life. She believes everything she has is owed to her because she’s better than you. If she does eventually loose at something, clearly it was an injustice and not her fault! I don’t know about you, but when I see that side of someone, it’s an immediate turn-off.

Now think about those people who are truly humble about where they are in life. They’re on top but they worked extremely hard every day to get there. If you congratulate them on their hard work, they immediately say it was a team effort and start to talk about how great this other person on their team is. They’re the kind of people who really would give you the shirt off their backs and not think twice about it, and they’re the ones who really do make the world a better place. They learned humility because at some point along the way they lost, big time. They know what it feels like to be down so they empathize with you and try to help you on your journey.

Did you notice the Texas Tech players flock to Matt Mooney to comfort him last night? They’ve got his back because he has had theirs. These guys get it. They understand humility and will be better people as they move through the stages of adulthood for it!

Texas Tech
Photo Credit: Texas Tech Basketball

4. Losing Allows You to Easily Identify the ones who Really Love You!

What’s something all big winners have in common? They all have an entourage, 90% of which is fake. When you start winning at life, people start crawling out of the woodwork to be be around you, and reap the benefits of your win. While I was selling Real Estate, I actually had the opportunity to work with a few Dallas Cowboys and the one thing they all told me was that they were buying investment properties to protect their money! If their cash was just sitting in the bank, Uncle Buck, who paid little attention to them while they were growing up, is suddenly showing up needing “help.”

I’m not going to lie, when you’re winning and you’re the “It Girl,” it feels pretty amazing! I always felt wonderful in the moment when people who never paid attention to me before would want to get to know me. But then when I lost, all of those people disappeared! Loss gives you a moment to look around and see who is really there for you! Who is going to show up at your house and help you laugh off that one moment in time, and help you pick up the pieces? Those are the people who truly matter in your world!

Through all our ups & downs!

The Texas Tech Basketball team is probably still showing up in Lubbock to a huge crowd of proud fans today. I mean, second in the nation is a HUGE deal to our school, but I have a feeling that some of those people who mysteriously showed up this season that weren’t there before, won’t stick around long for the guys. They will have the opportunity to see who is really going to be there for them for the long haul, both as friends and as fans!

5. When the Door Closes Another Opens, but Sometimes You have to Search for It!

Most of my greatest losses in life have been a deliberate move by God to point me in a totally different direction. I wasn’t meant to go to school in College Station. I was meant to go to Lubbock to start my “adult” life out there. I wasn’t meant to continue in Real Estate, it was time to start pushing myself to be my own boss. I was NEVER meant to be an athlete (haha), I was meant to write!

When you lose, especially when it’s off the sports field, a lot of times it feels like the door is slamming in your face. Truth be told, it probably is, but the key is to realize that it’s not a bad thing. It’s slamming in your face to force you to walk through a different one. Stop banging on it to reopen, and instead walk down the hall, take a few turns, go up some stairs, and keep moving until you find the next open door. The faster you’ll find your next door, the faster you find your next win.

Meant to be a Writer!

For the boys of Texas Tech Basketball, some of them are graduating. If they’d won the game they would maybe move on to be drafted by maybe the Lakers, where now that team will draft from Virginia (I know nothing about how the draft works, just go with me on this). Who knows, maybe one of our Tech “losers” will be drafted by the Mavs instead now, and by moving to Dallas, or wherever, find his future wife and start a family that he never would have found if they went to play for the Lakers. Maybe his family will put roots down in Dallas and he will retire from the game and start a foundation for children in the area and really make an impact that he couldn’t have had his life gone a different way. If he went to LA, he may have gotten sucked into the Kardashian clan, and we all know what happens to their men! Yikes!

Learning to loose with grace and humility will teach you how to win with the same level of grace. It teaches you to appreciate life and be joyful in the moment! It also teaches you to respect others, to give credit where credit is due, and how to reflect upon yourself. Being a looser is not as bad as our President wants us to think. Being a looser means that you have no place else to go but up! Being a winner means you have to either maintain or fall. That’s a lot of pressure!

So, Matt Mooney and the whole team should really be holding their heads and their guns up high! Be proud of what you did this season! Not only did you put our basketball program back on the map but you now stand in a place to be an incredible role model for all the future Red Raiders, like my sons!

Texas Tech
Future Red Raider

Is there a time in your life when you failed or lost? How did it lead you to where you are today? I’d love you to share your story!

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  1. Nicki | 22nd Apr 19

    This is such a great post! You are right, losing can teach you so much about who you really are. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Annette | 20th Apr 19

    Excellent tips!!! Winning isn’t everything. Oftentimes the win is from the lessons learned and experiences when we lose, but that can be a win (in a round about way). ??

  3. T.M. Brown | 17th Apr 19

    Junell, this is beautiful!! I love how you put this together. We always talked to our boys about loss being a stepping stone to success. Learn, grow, appreciate, celebrate other;s victories, etc. Great post!!! I’m not sure whether humility or appreciating the wins more is my favorite.

  4. Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef | 16th Apr 19

    Great article, Junell, from the losses we learn how to win! It’s important that children learn this, I can only shake my head when they hand out first place ribbons to everyone. It defeats the purpose of competition and embeds the wrong thought process for little ones. Thanks so much for sharing! ?

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