I was talking to a woman the other day who told me that she had recently interviewed for a position that she really wanted but came in second. Her statement got me thinking that sometimes second place is the best outcome. We’re conditioned that winning is the only outcome for which we should strive. After all, who runs a race with a goal of coming in second? But what if second place really turns out to be first place? Let me explain.
I have always believed that there’s a reason that things work out the way they are supposed to. It’s not fate – it’s simply the way the world works. Here’s my story. When I was about to become a newly minted college graduate, I interviewed for a job managing a shopping center in a medium-sized Midwestern city. I pulled out the stops to prepare for the interview and dazzle the owner’s representative with my charm and good looks because I had no experience! But alas, the owner opted to hire someone else who actually did have experience. Naturally I was disappointed. But had I won that job, who knows where my career path might have led? Instead, I have been blessed with the most incredible opportunities to live my passion over the past 45+ years. In the end, I definitely ended up in first place!
Some may see this as a Pollyanna sort of mindset. After all, who really thinks that they’ve won when they’ve lost? But there’s a method to this madness. The key is to truly believe the notion that something better is always in store for us. When we succeed, it’s a reflection of this reality. When we are unsuccessful it’s a signal that what we wanted wasn’t meant to be . . . because we’re destined for something better. If we doubt that the latter is true, then it’s highly unlikely that we’ll experience that “something better.” We all know the power of the mind. And yes, it’s powerful enough to block and deny positive outcomes when we aren’t open to all possibilities.
It’s hard not to be disappointed when we take second place. But with practice we can learn how to quickly replace the feeling of disappointment with feelings of excitement and anticipation. I’ve reached an interesting point in my life. When I expend extreme effort, work smart and am innovative but still come up short, my heart pounds a little faster and I think to myself, “OK, something pretty amazing must be in store and I can’t wait to find out what it is.” I may even work with some positive affirmations at this point to ensure that I am open and receptive to however the script is about to be re-written.
Here’s a current example of how this actually worked for us. My wife and I have been spending time each winter in Florida (where it’s much warmer than in Kansas City). We decided to stop renting and purchase a condo. We found what we thought was the perfect unit and made an offer which was countered by the seller. We submitted a counteroffer to the seller’s counter and then heard nothing. I was fairly certain that another buyer had emerged which turned out to be the case. But rather than being disappointed, we chose to truly believe that something better was about to happen. And boy did it! A magnificent unit we had previously seen in another building came back on the market. Right after we had initially looked at this unit it went under contract. Apparently, the buyer backed out at the last minute and we quickly bought the unit. It has exceeded our wildest expectations. Had we wallowed in despair over the first unit we didn’t get, I’m absolutely convinced that we wouldn’t have connected with the unit we ended up purchasing.
By being open and receptive that something bigger and better is waiting to be revealed, our losses can become spectacular wins. Clearly there is no downside to embracing this mindset.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.