How Elliott Handles Losing

Anyone who tries to feed you a spoonful of the sweet and sour consolation that “everyone is a winner”, is ignorant of the basic laws of nature.

And in a very insensible way, this person is setting you up for a life far worse than failure.  He is setting you up for the most damaging disease of our generation and culture; mediocrity.

Steer clear of any such people and their hazardous advice.

Instead seek the council of men who have tasted the sweetness of victory, endured the sour agony of defeat, AND have generously brought home the valuable lessons only learned by dancing with both.

“Everyone is NOT a winner.”

Winning and losing are as mutually dependent as Night and Day, Winter and Summer or Heaven and Hell.

Without one, the other could not exist.

Without night, there would be no day.

And without losers there would be no winners.

So if everyone truly was a winner, then we might just as well ALL be losers.

To psychologically and philosophically dismiss an essential component to this natural dialectic is to destroy the other.

To say that “everyone is a winner” is as much a form of reckless psychological bondage as to say that “everyone is a loser”.

It robs us of the kinetic energy cultivated by the dance of opposites.

It is in the “dance” between summer and winter that the Earth cultivates its power to grow a single tree and construct a might forest.

It is in the “dance” between the female and male lover that produces the energies needed to bring forth a human life.

It is in the “dance” between the ON and OFF switches, symbolized by the 0 and 1, that gives the entire digital age its power… including the power that you and I are afforded to share this communication.

There is ALWAYS something to be gained from the “dance” of opposites.  To kill one partner in the dance is to kill the entire dance.

To embrace the “dance” is to notice, study, experiment and harness the energy inherent in it.

To lose… gives you insight as to WHO you are, WHAT you can change, the creativity to try new ways, and the energy to implement them in order to “dance” another day.

But unlike the dance of seasons that empower the Earth to move forward, which is governed by forces outside its “consciousness”, it is up to the individual man to CONSCIOUSLY extract the power latent within the personal dance that he engages between his darker and brighter selves.

I expect to win.

I train to win.

And I compete, not for the sake of competition – I compete TO WIN.

But today, I am a loser.

This loss is not a sealing of my fate, instead it is a low point in my “dance” meant to energize me to move forward with greater focus and precision — and so the dance continues!

There are a few critical things that my loss today, to a hungry, young athlete, forced me to notice about myself.

First, I did NOT lose because…

** I competed in a heavier weight class than I trained for.

** I suffered a distracting injury during the first event in the competition.

** I was unfamiliar with two of the events in the competition.

Those are merely CIRCUMSTANCES that may have had a hand in my fate… but to rest my judgement in these “excuses” would dis-empower me, strip responsibility from my hands and render me impotent… where I would relinquish my ability to do anything about it.

Instead, my loss is a result of CHARACTER FAILURES.

Ways of being, that I consciously choose to embody, which lead to the down-swing in my dance.

I acted with Arrogance and Resignation. — THAT is why I lost.

There were two games being played out in the competition.

One game took place “under the bar” (or log, for strongman).

And the other one, deep within my mind and soul (or character).

So I’ll begin my recap here, with my character.

+ First, I had become arrogant since winning my first “comeback” show in February.  This lead me to train with far less focus.  As a result, my workouts were not directed at this competition, instead I trained for fun (not to win).

+ In my arrogance I completely ignored this competition whilst training to where I didn’t even know the weights that would be used in each event.  My assumption was, “It doesn’t matter, I’m going to win regardless.”

+ In my arrogance I decided that it would be fine to have a few drinks (with vodka in it) while out for dinner with my wife the night before the competition.

+ In my arrogance I chose not to cut the 8 pounds that I was overweight in order to compete in the under 200 pound weight class that I trained for.  Instead, I resorted to the arrogant idea that “Since I’m Elliott Hulse and I always win, I should be able to kick the asses of men even thirty pounds heavier that me.”

+ In my arrogance I quit 10 seconds short of completing the entire last (tie breaking) event in the competition, thinking that “there is no way that this kid is going to catch me.” — and in that instant I not only lost because of arrogance, but there was also a twist of RESIGNATION.

I was tired, and chose to resign the exercise of my will rather than squeeze out the last ounce of energy that my body could have produced in order to seal the win.

THAT is how I lost.

THAT is where my darkness lives.

THAT is what really happened yesterday in the parking lot of a dirty bar and grill in Fort Meyers Florida where about two dozen misfit athletes who enjoy lifting odd objects gathered to see who was the strongest.

THIS is what it looked like:

Things you may notice: My busted face after the Log Press; My pathetic attempt at the Tire Pull race that I didn’t prepare for; My RESIGNATION while walking away from the stone with 10 seconds still on the clock for the last event.

At the conclusion of this competition some of my friends tried to console me by saying, “Hey, this was just a local show, it really isn’t that important”. — to which I replied, “Instead of granting me pardon for a missed step in my dance, I would rather you pray from my grace.”

In the word Grace we find many meanings…

“Grace” comes from the Latin word “gratia” meaning gratitude or thanks.

Grace is also a word used to describe favor or goodwill granted by God or a higher power.

Finally, a dancer who exhibits beauty and elegance in her form and display is said to be graceful.

In my experience THAT is exactly how it works!

First we choose to have GRATITUDE even in times of adversity.  We are thankful for “darkness”, “winter seasons” and losing, instead of dismissing these things as if they don’t exist; or that “everyone is a winner”.

Then, we are then granted FAVOR because of our recognition and respect for the laws of nature or God.

Finally, to those who are merely spectators observing as we participate in the “dance” of our lives, it seems as if our every step is infused with BEAUTY AND ELEGANCE!

Keep dancing.

And keep Growing Stronger,

Elliott Hulse

PS – If you found this message supportive and encouraging to you as you DANCE, please share it with others who are also brave enough to get up and dance every single day of their lives.

I find it encouraging to learn about other dancers.  We dance far more beautifully “in step” rather than alone or against one another :)

Comments 40

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  2. As always, I love your candor, commitment, and positive attitude. There is always a lesson to be learned and blame/excuses are disempowering. Personal responsibility, while understanding it’s ridiculously challenging for all of us is the important lesson. I’m just now getting this in my 40s.

  3. Too many times I have given myself a pass on present failures based on past successes. Thanks Elliot,for the reminder that this is not acceptable.

  4. your hard work will soon pay off it sounds like you have the right support group and metal attitude much respect.

  5. Elliot…well said with great interspection. For there is a time to win and a time to lose. To see the strong man be able to see his own weaknesses empowers me with strength that doesn’t come from vitality, but rather from the will power to be the best I can be without any excuse. Through this trial God’ s grace and mercy have been in disguise to allow you to see that you are far stronger man than the winner of the competition. Tomorrow will bring a new day and you will compete again to win not by what you think you can do, but by the lessons learned from that humbled you from the loss. Never exhalt yourself to a place where you that nothing can beat you because it is by your weakness that you are made strong…and yesterday you became stronger than you have been before. Keep up the fight and always finish strong!

  6. Your insight, honesty, diligence and Zen-like attitude never fails to amaze me. I have much respect for you as a person and as a teacher.

  7. You are an even better person from this experience.Ands in sharing, it will make others better too.We all can learn from winning and losing,and like you said in one of your videos,we can reconstitute ourselves into a higher order of being after the struggle.Peace bro!

  8. Yo Elliott!! Congrats on just competing on the competition.. big props because it takes a real man to admit his mistakes. I’m confident you’ll make the proper adjustmentsand kick ass next time. Great post as always..much love my friend

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    You’re right Larry. We’ve been conditioned to accept failure or to use our will to fight it… not many teach us how to use it to strengthen ourselves.

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  14. Elliot, all I can say is, its a rare man who can admit his reasons for failing, most people hide behind excuses, and often convince themselves that they are the reasons they didn’t come first. For this reason Im proud of you as much as if you came 1st. That! is integrity. A quality of high order. Thanks for the inspiration Elliot, your still stronger than the average guy on the street :)

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    “we can reconstitute ourselves into a higher order of being after the struggle” – a powerful concept!

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  18. I think a common characteristic today is the justification of settling. Everyday you hear the “excuses” of why someone is in the position they are in, usually due to an “uncontrollable factor.” This is probably the biggest reminder I have for myself. I never want to settle or think someone else has control over my goals or where my future leads. It definitely showed through your post today you feel the same way. You motivate me almost everyday with your emails. Keep it up. Thanks for the hard work, it takes a lot to show people your failures rather than accomplishments.

  19. THIS is what we should be teaching our kids! NOT that if mom and dad pay the extra $20, they’ll get a new belt every 3 months in Karate…or get a trophy at the end of the season. Solid article…refreshingly honest. I love both your blogs and am always waiting to see what you come up with next!

  20. Hey Elliot great post. I just had the same problem myself where I made a very careless mistake on the atlas stones where I should have taken the win no problem. What I learned is that I will never make that mistake again and I will only be better in the future. I look forward to competing against you in Orlando.

  21. Yo Elliot-

    Thought I’d share this quotation from a mutual source of inspiration:

    “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    All of the stuff you mentioned in the article is GOLDEN and applies beautifully to Emerson’s logic. Because failure and success are inherently intertwined, it is inevitable that the man who fails most will likewise succeed most, so long as he has the strength and grace to endure.
    Over the past several months, thanks to your broad approach to strength-training, I have learned this lesson among many other things. Not too long ago, I was afraid of failure, often telling myself, “It’s because I am a perfectionist.” But overtime, I realized this was no more than a faulty excuse that was adding yet another brick to the wall between me and success every time I said it. I had been all the while violating the law that states the DUALITY of failure and success.

    You keep inspiring me, brother, to gather all of the strength within me and bring it forth to the world. Because even though I am young, and my successes thus far have been small, just as Emerson offers that “the creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn,” so too can our tiny successes accumulate over time into a legacy of cosmic proportions.

    Keep up the EXCELLENT work!

  22. Big E,

    Sometimes we need a reminder to continue to push forward, and usually life provides that for us right when we need it. I always admire your candor and analytical nature on both your successes and failures. That’s why you continue to have more successes than failures.


  23. The fruits of our own labor wether being in win/loss become our own material for transforming our energy potential for changing. Do we wish it, allow it & work toward it? Its our choice. However when in grace there’s a sense of it being a choiceless choice. We are chosen as much as we choose.
    Thank u Elliot for an inspiring witnessing based on your own experience!

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  25. Losing is a humbling state to remind us that one must always grow and improve and keep pushing for the win.
    It is also a reminder that strength comes from above, in my case from my Heavenly Father.
    Elliot, I can’t express in words how hard this has hit me.
    Thank you for not sugar coating the truth. It’s best swallowed in it’s raw and bitter wholeness.

  26. Great Article Bro! You definitely could of got that stone up there one more time. I really enjoy your honesty and every video and article you do helps me to become a even more bad ass version of myself. Thanks Elliot.

  27. Man, this is what i love about competition.. competing with others makes us fight the biggest battlle of our lives, the competition within ourselves.
    Keep it up !!

  28. One thing i sure did notice as it sounded like who i assume to be your wife sounding like she was going to kick your arse for not lifting that stone two more times!

  29. While watching RANGO w/ my 5 yr. old son this weekend, there’s a scene when Rango is questioning who he is within his own darkness, which is symbolized by the empty desert, Rango finds advice from the “Spirit of the West”. Rango needing answers, The Spirit of the West simply reply’s…“Sometimes you have to dig deep to find what you’re looking for.”

    Your gift in strength has allowed you to “dig deeper” into your darkness, which instigates others to begin the same journey of strength.

    Gratia my friend

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  33. wasn’t that bad but only failure builds true men I suppose

    (ps what would you say is the ideal weight for a guy that’s 5’9 (no chemicals))

  34. Great post, Elliot. It’s all about personal responsibility- reminds me of a great rocky balboa speech :) I believe our country would be in a better state if this train of thought was the rule! You rock.
    Wish you broke it down more at CFSP. Thanks.

  35. I get it, no… really, i do. Elliott, it wasn’t okay that you didn’t give it your all. In retrospect you can’t do anything about it. As competitors we pout (i know I do when i miss a lift), we sulk, we get pissed, but it’s also what drives us to continuously improve and get better.

    There are no up’s, without the downs. There is no success without the contrasting failures. You can’t take pride in your accomplishment, without knowing the result of a lack of preparation. These aren’t rationalizations, they are simply truths. As Cliché as these words are, they are clichés because they are true.

    It’s your acknowledgement of, your public admission to your 10’s of thousands of fans (myself included) and the action you will take in training next time that will make this experience one that only makes you a stronger version of yourself. It will also teach each one of us to learn through revolutionary learning (learning through others sharing) as opposed to evolutionary learning (learning by experience).

  36. I love your youtube channel and your blog posts. They are inspirational and motivational. This particular post reminds me of a motivational video I saw yesterday by a navy seal who said something to the effect that, man can only be defeated in two ways; 1) he gives up 2) he dies. If only more people could look themselves in the mirror and make an honest assessment of themselves when they don’t win. Never give up. Never quit.

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