When to realize that you have lost…. and MOVE ON
What a loser!! This is an oft repeated phrase applicable to almost every person who has walked this planet, some time or the other, in his or her life. While there will be a few rare exceptions – people born with a silver spoon in their mouth, or ones on whom the Gods have been unfairly benevolent in terms of talent and intelligence, a vast majority of us do fail, at some point or the other. The similarity between successful and unsuccessful people is that, in all probability, both categories began with a failure. The dissimilarity would be that while the former continued in the same vein, the latter, (pardon the cliché) used failure as a stepping stone to success.
While it would be too way too early to gauge my entrance into the elite group of successful people, it is fairly easy to admit that I failed at my first professional step. As a fresh MBA grad, I was picked up by one of the premier banks in the country, and after a month of training, I officially became a banker, complete with a ‘manager’ tag and a set of visiting cards proclaiming the same. Over the next couple of years, I realized that I was no good at the job, if not in the absolute sense, then definitely in the relative sense – everyone around me seemed to be performing exceedingly well. To make it worse, I stopped enjoying myself (not that I was humming a song on my way to work every day prior to that, but a phase came when I was literally dragging myself to go).
Sometime in late 2007, the realization dawned that I needed to make a choice – continue to be a mediocre banker, or move on into something I really wanted to do. The stage may seem set for a ‘following your dreams’ kind of pot-boiler movie, where the protagonist pursues one of his supreme and hidden talents, and proclaims himself to the world like a phoenix rising from the ashes. But this being real life, that too where the protagonist is from a very middle class background, the aspirations cannot be too spectacular. After deep consideration, I quit my job, and found my way into a research firm – the transition was not smooth by any stretch of imagination, and included several months living in fear of if I had, indeed, made the right decision. Looking back, I can safely say that was definitely the best decision of my professional life.
This snippet from my life, along with evidence captured on the basis of my interaction with both books and people, brings me to an interesting theory – despite the popularity of the term, a person by himself can never be a loser; he could, however, be at a loss in certain situations. The ones who are unfortunate enough to have experienced several such situations, or those who hang onto a losing situation without any signs of moving on, form the rare breed who come close to being an embodiment of the loosely used term.
Like most problem-related theories, this comes with a solution, which is by no means rocket science – caught in a losing situation, there are only two options: transform it into a winning opportunity, or move on. While the first option could be the privilege of only a very few, I wanted to highlight the precautions one ideally needs to take before choosing the more obvious option 2. The precautions, in fact, boil down to three simple questions one needs to ask before moving on:
1. Have I spent long enough to conclude that this is a losing situation?
A knee-jerk reaction to an unpleasant situation could be even more unwise. It is important to know if enough time has been devoted to the situation before analyzing the parameters denoting success or failure.
2. Am I losing?
The most important question, for obvious reasons. Once it is established that one has spent enough time in the situation, an objective analysis is required (yes, writing down the pros and cons does help!!) for an honest answer.
3.Is there an alternative?
Moving on from a losing situation without an alternative in place is sometimes like jumping from the frying pan into the fire – having a contingency plan in place is essential to move on.
If the answers to 1, 2 and 3 are a resounding yes, then my suggestion would be to move on. There is a 4th step, possibly the most important of all, and that is – never look back and regret, it will only be a lose-lose situation. While my example has been from the professional field, I strongly believe that it can apply to any domain in life. Holding on to something, or someone, for that matter, in a definitely losing cause, would only generate a sense of depression, and of course, loser-phobia. A poor experience can never be the end of the world – the challenge is to admit that one has lost, and move on.