Losing is how s/he teaches us

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Here in NYC, many people have been engrossed in the US Open, one of the main tennis tournaments in the world. And yesterday, the women’s singles tournament was won by the first Canadian to ever win – Bianca Andreescu (born in my hometown! Go Mississauga!). But today, I’m not actually here just to talk about #SheTheNorth.

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For almost 20 years, Biance Andreescu has been envisioning herself winning against the greatest female player of this era, Serena Williams. Williams won her first title before Andreescu was even born.

The Williams sisters (Serena and Venus Williams) were born in different states, but moved to Compton, California at a young age where they played tennis while being home-schooled by their father, Richard Williams. They later moved to West Palm Beach to attend the tennis academy of Rick Macci for five years – Macci spotted the exceptional talent of the sisters. However, Richard Williams pulled his daughters from the academy, preferring to take it slow and focus on their schooling, and he took over their coaching from then on. Eventually they each went on to become astonishing athletes. Venus Williams, the older sister, became a seven-time Grand Slam title winner in singles, with 22 overall Grand Slam titles. Serena Williams, her younger sister, holds the most major singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles combined amongst active players, male or female.

I could go on to list Serena’s accolades, but one thing that has always struck me is how she frames losing:

I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks. If winning is God’s reward, then losing is how he teaches us.

These tennis champions know what many champions across the globe know – that you learn more from your losses than you do from your wins. This is true in so many facets of our lives – both physically and mentally. For our 6,000 students, it’s a reminder of how we can turn their frustrations into motivations. It means working with our scholars when they aren’t quite grasping the concepts, and understanding where they have gone wrong. It means seeing their mistakes, learning from them, and turning that process into motivation – so that every time they enter our classrooms, they are training their brains like you train a muscle.

Before this year, Andreescu was ranked 152 in the world, and no one knew who she was. But she carried so much of the spirit and confidence that Serena Williams inspired in a generation.