How To Concede

Throughout the past several U.S. Presidential election cycles, there is one speech every four years that stands out above all others. The words in that speech penetrate through the plume of noise, fear, and division. It conveys leadership from a place of humility and sincerity. It creates a moment where you wonder, “Where has this candidate been hiding?”

It’s the one speech in which the candidate honestly confronts personal shortcomings and genuinely honors the work of others.

It is the concession speech.

Concession speeches from the second place finishers in Presidential elections reveal a truth rarely seen on the trail. Behind all the handlers, rehearsed lines, and battle tactics, the concession speech reveals more of the person instead of the candidate. Vulnerability is no longer hidden.

We all have situations where we will not reach the outcome we desire. At work, at church, in school, in personal relationships.

In those times, few of us will honor the moment and the people around us with a truly felt concession.

A spoken concession reveals your integrity, strength and authenticity — and gives to you a sense of release and freedom.

You might script your concession speech like this:

  1. Thank the process — Value is found in the process over the result. The process gave your ideas a chance to succeed.
  2. Be accountable — Anything less is not conciliatory.
  3. Show deep gratitude for your team — Hoist them on your shoulders so that everyone sees their contribution.
  4. Turn a losing moment into a learning moment — The moment one person thinks you no longer want to learn is the moment you lose the rest of us.
  5. Turn a learning moment into a teachable moment — A lesson not shared is a missed opportunity to continue a relationship.
  6. Take pride in the smallest success — Remind us that the small details matter to you.
  7. Cross the next start line — You may not have finished the way you desired but how you concede determines your next start.

Before this year comes to an end, you will have an opportunity to put these steps into play. Imagine how your life would look if these steps were instinctual.

Within your losses, you would find more wins. Within your wins, you would find more opportunities to learn.

No predictions here on what will happen on election night this year. But if the majority of us knew the value of quality concession, we quite possibly could inspire the candidates to improve the process they use to become the President.


As America’s first ever Olympic Gold Medalist in Whitewater Canoe Slalom, I promote strategies and shares stories for living and performing at your best, doing the work that matters and engaging with purpose. My platforms include performance coaching and consulting, professional speaking, videos, and my weekly newsletter, “Sunday Morning Joe.”