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STACKED AT ZERO: A Competent Approach To Losing

Stacked At Zero

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

How To Lose Like A Boss

There are many ways to lose, some more painful than others.  In my curling career, I have lost more times than I can count – and although sports victories are important, in reality, they only serve as testing ground for character development.

The true test is life.

Life brings losses that are hard, if not impossible to recover from and don’t show up on a score-card.

Take a miscarriage for instance.

That experience changed me forever, left scars, and I wouldn’t characterize it as a game.  I would characterize it as the ground zero for learning about handling failure, unexpected loss, and ultimately a way to learn focus.

In other words, provide the necessary mindset to succeed.

Creativity requires risk.

Players vs The Team

When an individual player messes up or misses a shot, there are consequences, a series of implications that unfold.  Some effects may be subtle, and the team may not even be aware of shots that could be shaped slightly better.

Maybe the player has never practiced formally and worked on the fundamentals of the game, or experienced game flow.

A player’s entire repertoire may include a disconnected series of half misses and illusions of grandeur.  Although they are inexperienced, their reputation could even be raised by their teammates, even though they are actually holding the rest of the team back.

I am always interested in that moment when the light bulb flicks on, and the awareness rises ever so slightly, and a glimpse of greatness inspires the player to train their skills.

Nobody likes a dull knife.


Late in the curling season, a cheerful lady approached me inquiring about the second session of our Adult Learn To Curl Program.  She curled years ago and wanted to get back into the sport, but didn’t know if it was for her.

This is a common story.

What I didn’t expect was her added twist.  Rather than just talk about it, I invited her for a small introductory lesson — which she accepted.

At this point, I am really confident in my teaching ability.  Not only do I have a high level of skill throwing a curling stone, but I also enjoy being out on the ice with people.  The feedback has been really helpful.

However, at the beginning of the session, she threw me a loop.

She had suffered the complete loss of movement after a horrific car crash.  Curling was one of the many ways she was recovering the full use of her body.

When she told me how badly she’d been injured in the past, I immediately envisioned her falling and hurting herself again.

The instant responsibility was unnerving, especially since only a week or so before I had taken my first hard fall on the ice in years.

Everything went as planned and she has now enrolled in our course.

Loss transformed into gain.


I listened to a podcast interview and the guest was talking about being over-competent, unfortunately, I cannot remember the podcast, nor the guest.

However, the point remains.

Although it’s important to strive for competency in your profession – there is a time when there are insufficient challenges to allow for growth.

I never thought of the problems with being over competent until I listened to Joe Rogan interview Jordan Peterson.

After feeling the overwhelm in the Scotties, I felt it necessary to take a rest in the arms of over competence.

As a strict Ice Maker, the biggest challenge has been to not get bored at my job.

So I supplement.

Curling outside the club hasn’t worked out for me in the last few years since I started a family with my wife.  It didn’t help that we had twin boys, but they have added a spice to my life that money cannot buy.

Being a father has also given me many life lessons and invaluable experience.  I’ve taken the initial love I had for competition off the table and transformed it into the drive that’s fueled other areas of my life towards growth.

The solution has been to introduce newer players to the curling surface and experience growth as a team.

The Spirit of The Game

The heart of the curling team exists shared amongst the players.  This is the rare and valuable part that each club in town knows deep down.  If the club is in decline, a key member may have aged out, and in some cases found nobody to pass the torch to.

What is this culture that I’m referring to?

Does it have a taste?

A voice?

A characteristic you can hold in your hand?

I think its found in the small space between a handshake.  No matter what the score, you’ll also find it in the conversation between rounds.

That is the finest example of a real win.

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