Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
In The Huddle with Fran Tarkenton

To Win, You Have to Know How to Lose

FranTarkentonFacebookPost3-050914A paradox: I think one of the best signs that someone has a good chance to be successful is when they know how to deal with failing. I learned more from losing than I ever did from winning, and my greatest successes have all come about because of the things I learned from things that didn’t work—that failed.

In football, I learned from losing. When we won, we went out to dinner and laughed and celebrated. We had a great time—but I didn’t really learn much. In fact, the danger was that I would start to think I had it all figured out, that I had all the answers. I can assure you, I never did, and any time I even started to think that I got a nice dose of reality to put me back in my place. When we lost, nobody went out to party. I went and watched tape. I watched every mistake over and over again—what did I not see as it was happening, why did I make that decision, what was I doing wrong? How could I have done better to give my team a better chance to win? And then I prepared myself so I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

No matter what happened, I wasn’t going to be paralyzed by a loss. Most NFL players grow up as the best player on their team their whole lives, and they can often win games single-handedly. They don’t always learn how to lose. But when you get to the NFL, everybody is that good, and every player is going to experience defeat. After all, only one team has ever gone undefeated! Players who never learn how to handle defeat are in trouble, because when things start going against them they don’t know how to change direction and solve their problems. If all you’ve ever done is win your entire life, failure is a shock to the system, and there are players who never figure it out. The great ones learn how to lose—and then use what they learn to win in the future.

That same attitude has helped me in business. Some of my first businesses didn’t work. But I learned from every single one of them. I learned how to bootstrap a business after I took out a loan on a business that failed. I learned how to choose the right industry. I learned how to see the signs and know when to get out of something. But because I believe in the power of failure, I didn’t let it stop me when something didn’t work.

Knowing how to fail well takes resilience, perseverance—maybe even a little stubbornness. It takes smarts and creativity. And it takes humility to admit failure and open yourself up to learn from it. Nobody gets it right every time. We all fail. But when we learn from our failures and our honest with ourselves about what we’re doing and where we fall short, then we can get it right in the long run. It’s a long season, and continuing to learn and get smarter is the only way we’ll be able to keep getting stronger week after week, year after year.

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by Fran Tarkenton

Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
9 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
7 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ivan Berry

Speaking of failure, did you read the “In The News” article AMAC posted on the 20th about the EPA’s Gold King mining disaster? Wonder why that article wasn’t included in this weeks newsletter. It makes such good points and should be an eye opener for anyone who opposes the Collective and how central planners can and do mess it up for everyone else. Wonder also what the Trolls would have had to say about comments and the less than stellar reporting from our national media. Come on AMAC. Don’t just tease with articles in the more or less obscure AMAC US site. Put these articles out there where the majority of those who visit your weekly can easily partake of such well written articles.


Hey Fran: Any chance you can send a copy of your article to Obama???? He has been failing for over 6 years and still hasn’t learned a thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ivan Berry

Fran, you make a good point about learning from failure. Maybe AMAC could take this weeks articles as an indication of a “bad” week, as interesting articles go. Very little was added for our situational standing, little was of much interest (at least to me), and not many valuable comments (including mine) were produced. Guess anyone can have a bad hair day and this may be one for the AMAC team. Just saying.


That kind of attitude and leadership is what people respect.