Losing isn’t fun. It stinks. There is no way around it. A loss is something that cuts the greatest competitors at the core.

“You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser,” said Cam Newton following his recent Super Bowl loss. While his words are open to discussion and interpretation, they point to an interesting topic of how we deal with competitive losses.

A few months ago, Ronda Rousey was on top of the world. She was the face of the UFC, Dana White’s bff, Reebok’s poster child, a budding actress and the role model of young girls in America. She had it all…and then Holly Holm head kicked her into oblivion. It was about as big of an upset as I can remember in the sport of MMA. No one saw it coming. What happened following the loss was, perhaps, even more of a shock.

Ronda went under the radar. She was offline. No one heard from her. No updates. Nothing.

Months later, she resurfaced, and all was seemingly back to normal. Then, all of a sudden, she appears on Ellen and tells the world she contemplated suicide following her loss. Wow. What a surprise, intense moment at 4:30 in the afternoon! It felt like it wasn’t real. She was, possibly for the first time, speaking from her heart. There was no façade. Her guard was down.

I felt for her, as I’m sure nearly everyone did, but at the same time, I couldn’t resonate with what she was saying. I’ve lost terribly in front of A LOT of people, but never for one single mili-second did I contemplate suicide.

There’s a fine line between identifying yourself as what you do vs. identifying what you do as a part of you. I don’t know the exact balance, but I am very confident that, in my life and the lives of my children, I will always stress the importance of cultivating the person as opposed to just cultivating the “thing” that they do.

It’s easiest to see in professional sports. You see plenty of guys who retire and spiral out of control because they are unable to identify with anything other than their sport. Conversely, you see retired athletes successfully translate their skills and abilities (their “person”) into other avenues and pursuits. They take their core being and project it elsewhere. Their core being is not their sport.

It’s a lot to digest, but an interesting/debatable topic nonetheless. What’s the proper balance? Can you be great if you don’t fully identify yourself as what you do?

PS I recently wrote an article  titled 5 Manly Lessons Learned in the Cage for my friends at www.orderofman.com. It’s a fun read, enjoy!