When losing feels better than winning

Vipin at the 1st Cyprus Toastmasters Public Speaking Competition

On 21st May 2016, I participated in the 1st Cyprus Toastmasters public speaking competition. To be honest, I was expecting to win a prize. So the fact that I didn’t, left me very disappointed and dejected. I truly believed that I deserved to win. The fact of the matter is that most people who seriously participate in a competition expect to win and believe that they are deserving. A Toastmasters speech competition is a very objective and fair assessment process. It does not matter, what your subject was, or if you got the audience laughing and applauding. If you do not do well based on the criteria defined, then you don’t win. It’s that simple. Of course the content and audience reception matters, but they are only part of the overall criteria.

My disappointment continued for another day after the event and I could not figure out where I went wrong. I spoke to a few people who attended the event and no one could tell me anything. It’s later I realized how difficult it is for your friends to give you a “real” feedback. I was about to go into my shell when I saw a message in my Facebook inbox from someone who wrote to me to congratulate me for the speech and stating how much he liked it. It was almost like a moment of truth for me. I almost instantly brightened up and felt good that I had touched someone with my speech. That’s when I also remembered all those complete strangers who congratulated me after my speech on the day. These were complete strangers to me and the fact that some of them were touched by my speech, meant a lot to me. One of them in fact even went to say that for him I was already the winner.

To be honest, I would have probably forgotten about all these people had I won on that day. But the fact that I lost, has helped me keep these simple memories. I had other people come up and congratulate me but I could clearly tell between what was probably flattery and genuine wishes. That day I learnt an important lesson in life. The satisfaction we get by touching people’s lives and having an opportunity to make a difference is much greater than winning something for oneself.

Tony Robbins often says that there are 2 parts to success

  1. The science of achievement
  2. The art of fulfillment

Achieving anything in life is a science which can be taught, learnt and mastered. Being fulfilled by the success is an art and it really depends on how you look at life.

What is probably a bigger tragedy in life is not those who don’t succeed in their goals but those who do succeed but don’t feel fulfilled.  How many times in our life we encounter situations where we achieve what we always wanted and aspired for, but when we eventually got it, we wondered… Is that it?. Our lives have become nothing but a list of things to do and goals to achieve. I urge you to look at your life and think about all those moments where you were really happy… I mean really happy. I’m sure that most of them were the simple pleasures of life and many of them would be situations where you have derived satisfaction from helping someone.

When I look back at the speeches now, I believe that on the day all 3 who won were truly deserving for their speeches on the day. Every contestant put in their best and gave it all they had. On that day, I did not achieve my goal but I felt fulfilled, because I touched a few people’s lives. I won even after losing!. That ladies and gentlemen is worth living for.

Here is my speech from the contest. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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  1. Wow, I didn’t know that the person with whom I worked and (still working) is so active in life apart from work.
    The great part is that I never saw a glimpse of attitude in you during the work, you were with us just as a kind person and friend, helping us in our tough time. Now I feel proud that I had a chance to work with such an unseen(to me only) personality.

  2. Thanks Brian. As always you impress me with your simplicity and style. Earlier with your speeches and now with this comment. You are really someone I see enjoying life as it should be and its wonderful to watch. I’m sorry to have missed your last speech. Congratulations once again for winning the award. Cheers.

  3. Vipin, I really enjoyed reading your comments on losing and winning from the Speech Contest. (Interestingly, I’d put you in joint second place……although that is now immaterial.) More importantly, I really can chime with your follow-up comments. Success can sometimes be the worst thing…. and also, I agree that when we reach what we consider to be a ‘success point’ all too often it really doesn’t fulfill its marketing hype. I shared this week in my speech that ‘we should ‘always find time for the simple things in life that make us feel happy to be alive.’ For me this has become a mantra, as I’ve crashed and burned before and leaned to stop chasing after some things that appear good – but turn out to be illusions. Thanks again for being brave enough to take part – for being honest enough to congratulate the winners and, most valuable for me, explaining the lesson you learned in that losing process. THANKS THANKS THANKS

  4. When sports start to inspire you in real life so much so that you start thinking your life around it and weave those thoughts around them, its then the ultimate goal of winning starts kissing your heals. Well done Vipin Ramdas !

  5. Coincidently I saw the slogan “keep walking” on Cape Town air port about 10 years back. I kept thinking on it every time I landed and walked along the long big posters outside the air port. It gave me courage to move forward in the life and your speech further gave me in depth knowledge. Thank you Vipin for the wonderful speech which made difference to me.

  6. Hi Vipin, i experinced the exact emotions and feelings following the contest. I was sure that i would get at the least third place, because in my opnion this was the first speech i gave with total confidence. I was so pleased i achieved my personal goal of giving a speech with total confidence. So on reflection, if we are sble to achieve our goals we are all winners. And this experince should motivate us to give more speeches.

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