Knowing When It’s Time to Simply “Fold ‘Em”

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: In his recent autobiography entitled “Jack,” former GE Chairman Jack Welch tells a story of his youth about the unsuccessful ending of a high school hockey game his team had lost. It was a hard-fought game, and a bitter defeat. In disgust, young Jack threw his hockey stick to the ice, and stormed off into the locker room.

A few minutes later, with neither notice nor knocking, into the locker room of near-naked high school hockey players stormed Jack’s mother, who violently grabbed him by the neck, and yelled right into his face for all to hear, “You punk! If you don’t know how to lose a game, you shouldn’t be playing it!” Welch recounts how he never forgot that incident, or, more importantly, that crucial life lesson.

LESSON TO LEARN: No team, however dominant, wins every game. Even every MVP strikes out, sometimes. The greatest ballerinas all fall flat on their faces, at times. If you’re going to play “the game,” you’ve got to accept the fact – and get used to the fact – that defeats, losses and failures are an integral part of “the game.” Yes, part of “the game” is sometimes losing “the game.”

No, you should not get comfortable with the idea of losing, but you must understand that defeats happen to everyone, even champions. But it’s the true winners, the greatest champions, and those who go the farthest and the highest who, tasting defeat, brush themselves off, don’t look back, and move forward to play — and win — the game again.

I’d never want anyone to think I counsel people to “give in” or “give up” easily. To the contrary, the most important lesson of  SkloverWorkingWisdom™ - bar none – is to endure, persist and persevere, and to do so with intelligence and insight. But all things must pass: if you are faced with a situation, a dynamic or a circumstance that truly cannot in all probability be overcome, revived or resurrected, then in that instance acceptance of defeat – for the time being, only – is a sign of maturity, an element of grace, and the mark of a true champion.

This is especially so in time of job loss: the losers lament, but the winners get up, dust off, and jump back into the saddle, bruised, but more experienced, hence smarter. But just as determined, and in all probability more so, than ever before.

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