“Losers”, an eight part series on Netflix, offers welcome and uplifting insight into the rich rewards of failing.
There are hardly any winners among us so it is extraordinary the extent to which they hog our attention.
The exceptional is curious and curiosity attracts audiences, but making an exception a media staple makes for an exceptionally warped outlook.
Comparing our running to Usain Bolt’s, our business to Warren Buffett’s or writing to Mark Twain’s is a recipe for feeling pretty ordinary.
There are necessarily 99.999%, or more, losers in most rankings, most of which we never even get a chance to join.
It is inaccurate and harmful to believe we operate in a meritocracy. Luck plays the largest part in any success we have.
Redressing the balance
“Losers” helps by telling the story of sportspeople who were near the top of their field, but were lucky enough to miss the number one spot.
It offers joyful tales of the suboptimal from boxers, ice skaters, dog sledders, curlers, ultra runners, footballers, golfers and basketball players.
Being denied the pinnacle in one narrow area, we learn, is often a helpful reminder its pursuit comes at the expense of other things.
French ice skater Surya Bonaly (right) found it impossible to secure Olympic gold, I knew. The fact she prospered afterwards, I did not.
So the heroic failures in this series led to new types of goal and new forms of success, typically better than being breifly number one.
Dominant winners will typically only get this chance when they get over the hill. Losers get this chance handed to us early.
Our dedications are praised, while our addictions are often scorned, but they can be seen as two sides of the same coin.
Dedication to something, just like an addiction, can obscure the negative effects it can have. Losing is a lucky chance to take stock.
“Losers” offers a range of inspiring and engaging stories about how our misfortunes can turn into new kinds of winning.
Point-scoring helps keep us entertained and motivated, but is an extremely unreliable measure of success. ■