Losing? Stop Trying!

This seems to be a common idea in gaming and in life.

As an avid gamer and a member of multiple gaming communities, I’ve noticed a trend. I’ve seen that when people start to lose a game, they try less. This counterintuitive inclination seems to be really common. Currently, I play League of Legends a few hours a day and I’ve played with all types of people. I’ve seen players who relentlessly won’t give up no matter the score, but more often I see the opposite. It’s so frustrating to watch winnable games get thrown because teammates stop trying after things don’t go their way.

I’ve noticed this behavior other games from Tetris to Call of Duty. As I thought more about this, I realized I do it too. On a good gaming day, I generally try my hardest, but on days when I play poorly, I end up testing new strategies or other things I’m not so good with.

No gamer wants to lose. So why do we all seem to screw around when we are near defeat? Because it sucks to try and lose. No one wants to face the fact that they got outplayed or lost because they weren’t skilled enough. Putting in all your effort just to realize that it still wasn’t enough is one of the worst feelings in the world.

Everyone wants to have an excuse for failure, and when we see failure in the horizon we subconsciously work to create excuses.

I realized that this gaming tendency carries over to life too. In my sophomore year of high school I was sitting a few points below an A in AP Chemistry and it was nearing the end of the quarter. I was determined to ace the next 2 tests, so I took extremely good notes and studied extensively. The first test came and I took it feeling uneasy. The grade from that test was not what I needed, but there was still hope for the next test. So I studied night and day for it. No other class mattered. Nothing else mattered. I was going to ace that test. I took the test and again felt the same uncertainty as I did on the first one. Then I got my grade back: B. Final quarterly grade: B.

I was crushed, and the odd thing is my grade had nothing to do with it. I put so much work and effort into getting an A, yet I failed. The rest of that year I didn’t get close to an A in AP Chemistry. I quit trying. It wasn’t that I didn’t want an A, I just didn’t want the same experience I had in quarter 1.

I think everyone has had experiences like this, and that’s why so many people stop trying when failure is near. We want to be able to say “well yeah I lost, but I wasn’t really trying.”

To be successful, we have to be able to try, even if it ends in failure. Creating excuses only hurts us. Michael Jordan once said “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Michael was cut from his high school basketball team in his sophomore year, failure was in his horizon. He could have stopped trying in future years to prevent embarrassment, but he didn’t. His decision to move on from his failure created the best basketball player of all time.

I know I’ll fail in the future. I’ll probably fail tens of thousands of times in my life, but I’m going to try. Whether it’s League of Legends or my job, I’m going to finish strong, even if the finish line isn’t where I thought it was at the start of the race.

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