The Agony Of Defeat

If you’re over 40, you’ll remember the well-known Saturday afternoon sports show from so many years ago – ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Can you hear Jim McKay?  – “Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports. The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports.”  Kind of feeling nostalgic.

Click here for the refresher if you’d like.

What did you think of the “Agony of Defeat” guy?  I always thought he was a ski jumper who had an unfortunate fall while heading down the ramp at a very high speed. Made for a pretty awesome fall – can you see it? He’s falling awkwardly, bouncing off the snow and ice, goggles going everywhere, skis flying through the air, bouncing again, all with a voracious cloud of snow and debris all around him – very cool! So long as it wasn’t me, it was a lot of fun to watch.

Turns out my understanding of that fall was all wrong. And it took me 40 years to learn it!

Listening to John Maxwell’s audio book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, the reader shared the real story.

In fact, it was a ski jumper, but it was not a mistake. He fell on purpose, and apparently much to his fortune! Apparently, while gliding down the ramp, he determined it was far too icy and therefore dangerously fast – even for a ski jumper. He figured at this much higher speed, he would far exceed the landing distance and ultimately land, not where it was still sloped, but where it was flat. And landing from that height and speed on the flat surface would produce a far different result than the sloped surface. Bailing out on the way down might have saved his life.  Yet after that seemingly horrific fall, he only sustained a headache!

So was it really the agony of defeat? No, it was actually a fantastic success!

Makes me wonder what defeats I’ve experienced or witnessed that weren’t really defeats at all. If I had gone the path of supposed success, what might I have found? What tragedy on the horizon did I actually avoid while perceiving defeat?

Kind of like the old saying, “Thank God for unanswered prayers.”

Time to find the winning perspective in every situation.