We have marathon pickup soccer nights a few times per week where the winner stays on the field. I’ve noticed we win more overall on nights when we lose our first game.
I don’t know what University of Virginia (UVA) did after the 2017-2018 Men’s Basketball NCAA Tournament (how they felt, how they coped, the resulting actions, etc.), but I assume they were beyond embarrassed, they had lots of time to continue to get further pissed, and they had an extreme amount of pent up energy with a singular focus to avenge themselves in the 2018-2019 tournament. I picked them to win it all in one of my two brackets for these very reasons.
When we lose the first game in our soccer nights, it’s the worst feeling because we still have tons of energy at that point of the night which leads us to mentally process the loss more than when our bodies/brains are more tired at later points of the night. We are also much more focused on improving after starting with a loss, more so than after we have some amount of success. We usually sit in silence after a “first-game-loss” whereas we may talk a little more strategy or even about random life stuff as we sit after a loss later in the night. After a first-game-loss, we take it a bit more upon ourselves and internalize it.
As all of us have experienced this so often over several years, we have organically realized a first-game-loss almost always results in a stronger, more win-intentioned team the rest of the night. Every once in a while, someone (sometimes me) reminds a first-game-loss team that they will naturally play harder/better the rest of the night after a first-game-loss…so they should keep our chins up. But maybe I shouldn’t say that, or maybe certainly not the last part. I wonder/worry if this realization that we are better after losing big/early will one day negate the “value” of losing [big/early] in the first game. Perhaps as if realizing and appreciating the value of the loss will cause people to be too calm and lose the “beneficial impacts” of losing that naturally manifest from the underlying anger of losing. I have seen some people come off genuinely glad we lost the first game and outwardly say “That is the best thing that could have happened to us tonight. We were playing like crap and we needed that loss to fix our minds and regroup.” Is the first-game-loss intrinsically more “powerful” than the resulting mindset/actions from the the “anger” we feel? At some point, will having a healthy fear of failure turn into an appreciation of failure to the point where failure no longer has the same strangely beneficial effect on us? Will our failures need to get [much] bigger and more disappointing than ever for them to cause the ever-so-valuable internal change in us?
The “value” of failure/loss is biggest for those who have the highest hatred for it — which is directly proportional to one’s love for success/winning. We need to be careful to balance being upset about a failure with logic-ing out that failure can be beneficial (sometimes to help stay positive and cope with the loss) in order to ensure we remain resolved to 1) ensure we try again and 2) do something much, much better/different than we did the time we failed.