Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

Out this month, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn: Life’s Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses by John C. Maxwell helps readers “learn how to learn”—from losses, failures, mistakes, challenges and bad experiences.

“I want you to become a continual winner by being a habitual learner,” Maxwell says. He quotes political theorist Benjamin Barber: “The question to ask is not whether you are a success or a failure, but whether you are a learner or a nonlearner.”

Maxwell finds that, in America especially, instead of a “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” attitude, people approach mistakes with a “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose” attitude. But the latter view results in more harm than growth, he says.

Maxwell gives his 11 traps that people tend to fall into when losses happen in their lives:

1. The Mistake Trap: “I’m afraid of doing something wrong.” —Losses hold us back!

2. The Fatigue Trap: “I’m tired today.” —Losses wear us out.

3. The Comparison Trap: “Someone else is better qualified than I am.” —Losses cause us to feel inferior to others.

4. The Timing Trap: “This isn’t the right time.” —Losses make us hesitate.

5. The Inspiration Trap: “I don’t feel like doing it right now.” —Losses demotivate us.

6. The Rationalization Trap: “Maybe it’s really not that important.” —Losses allow us to lose perspective.

7. The Perfection Trap: “There’s a best way to do it and I have to find it before I start.” —Losses cause us to question ourselves.

8. The Expectation Trap: “I thought it would be easy, but it isn’t.” —Losses highlight the difficulties.

9. The Fairness Trap: “I shouldn’t be the one to have to do this.” —Losses cause us to ask, “Why me?”

10. The Public Opinion Trap: “If I fail, what will others think?” —Losses paralyze us.

11. The Self-Image Trap: “If I fail at this, it means I am a failure.” —Losses negatively affect how we see ourselves.

Maxwell describes solutions to these traps, and encourages his readers to continue learning, from both wins and losses. His book offers 13 chapters on how to learn in different circumstances and adopt a learning perspective.

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