I got second place in the Bring Your Own Business competition. No one told me in advance 1.) No powerpoints 2.) No taking questions. I still gave the important parts of my pitch, even if most of my resources were invalidated and half of my talking time was sucked up by the faculty advisor of the club asking questions, only to be told he couldn’t, by the club’s president. That said, second place. All things considered, I’ll take that. I went first, which was probably a bad decision, since there were 11 other proposals after mine, including proposals for a nightclub, “munchmallows”, a post-party cleanup service, and “blowyourmoney.com”, which would take an input dollar amount (your budget) and show you what all you could buy with it, given certain constraints such as “I want electronics” or “I want to travel”. It won.
The fact that I lost to something whose worth I couldn’t really wrap my head around at the time had me very, very flustered. I’ve since come to understand the value of such a service, and have even started taking it seriously as a project, but at the time, I was more than a little confused, and I let it come out in less than professional ways. Several people told me I gave a good showing, and I replied, “Really, I’m surprised I didn’t win.” There was an instant-long hush as those arrogant words slid over my audience, but being these businessfolk, they recovered quickly and we switched topics. But they saw me handle defeat poorly, something I can ill-afford to do again. I’d spent so much time working on the presentation that my defeat, especially to an idea that seemed to have been thought of not five minutes before it was presented, came to me as an affront on my character. I was so excited for my presentation that I shook as I gave it. I wasn’t calm or collected. I was bursting at the seams.
I’m generally a pretty calm guy, but this term is full of new and exciting things for me. I work two jobs, plus run a company, plus a full course load, plus three clubs, plus trying to get into the LCB’s Honors program. I spend a good deal of time patting myself on the back for overcoming the sloth and disorganization that has otherwise defined my life, more than I probably should. It’s good that I’ve started putting myself to good use, but pride is poison. Humility helps us recognize when and how we can do better; to forgo humility’s counsel is to invite only more crushing defeats into my life.
That said, this wasn’t a crushing defeat. People liked my idea. I made connections. Next time, I’ll be calmer, and I’ll understand the rules of the competition. What I chastise myself for the most, though, is not losing graciously. Clearly, if I didn’t win, then I can do better, right? It’s always in my best interest to better myself, so to indulge bitterness only hurts me. I’ll lose a lot of things in life: socks, money, loves, limbs, possibly my life at some point. The least I can do, both for myself and others, is not be a jerk about it.