Berlin Law Firm - October 2019

LEX CANIS THE Lee Berlin Kyle Killam

Abolish the 7th Place Trophy Learn to Love the Loss

There’s a moment I’ll never forget. I was at the awards ceremony my Freshman year for a high school debate tournament I had just competed in. The top seven “winners” would get to move on to compete for the state title, so, needless to say, I was excited. I ended up making it by the skin of my teeth — I got seventh place. That’s not what’s memorable about the experience, though. I look back on this little ceremony with bemusement because of how much my mom cheered for her bottom-ranking son and because I was handed a framed certificate for my “accomplishment.” Just having the event’s presenter announce I was going to the next round would have been fine. Was I supposed to feel good about seventh place?

I bring this up because I’ve heard a lot of talk about “participation trophies” going around and how they’re an invention of the millennials. I disagree. I think that as long as there have been parents, people have wanted to keep their kids from losing, even if it meant declaring, “Everyone’s a winner.” It’s a natural inclination; we want our children to have it better than we did. However, whether because of technology or societal shifts, this kind of “never lose, no pain” parenting has become far more common. I was reminded of this recently while I was interviewing interns. We met with plenty of young, bright professionals, but there were a few who seemed to think they had a shoe in the door. They turned in their resume and showed up for an interview, right? Don’t they deserve a job? I found myself in the perplexing position of having to deliver what felt like these young adults’ first real losses. Not that I’m a pessimist, but the world probably should have let them down once or twice before this, right? What I mean to say is that failure is an important part of life. It helps us figure out what our talents are and where to spend our energy. Sure, I got seventh place at that debate tournament, but I still made it out of regionals. The taste of near-defeat drove me to sharpen my skills and become an expert debater. On the flip side, when I came in dead last at a junior high track meet, I was pretty sure I was never going to the Olympics.

So, my message to parents out there is to reframe your view of failure. Removing adversity for your kids now is only going to create greater challenges for them later in life. Give them enough rope to make mistakes, and, when they do, hold them accountable. Chances are, they’ll learn far more from the experience than if you’d swooped in to save them at the last second.

“They’ll learn far more from the experience than if you’d swooped in to save them at the last second.”

1 Berlin Law Firm • didn’t have downs. If we ate lobster for dinner every day, it might as well be oatmeal. So, if you’ve taken a loss recently, then, no, I’m not going to give you a trophy. But you can bet I’ll be rooting for you to stand up and be prepared to take it on the chin again. It’s life, and it’s awesome! – Lee Berlin Losing is not a bad thing. It’s something we all have to face now and again, and believe it or not, our lives are richer for it. Loss gives life context — we’d never have ups if we

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