A little defeat here and there, not only in our school years, but throughout life itself, is good for all of us.
WE all know Nicol David. But not many will immediately know Low Wee Wern, even though both of them were in the same court battling for gold in the squash final at Incheon on Tuesday.
Nicol at 31 is a household name while Wee Wern, 24, is only slowly beginning to get noticed at home. But these are the top two women players from Malaysia in the world today, with Nicol at No 1 and Wee Wern at No 7.
That we have Wee Wern at No 7 is good news as it means that she could be a future No 1 like Nicol. So even if she did not win gold, we should rejoice in her getting a silver. In this situation, there is joy in winning, and in losing.
I was trying to explain this principle to a group of students on Wednesday at the Star-NIE Tale Spin 2014 contest. I was one of the judges and at the feedback session after the prize-giving ceremony, I could see the look of disappointment on the faces of the losing finalists.
In the three categories – primary, lower secondary and upper secondary – the two finalists in each category were given a short time to act out the story boards that they had submitted. This is a big victory in itself when you consider that more than 30,000 entries were received and only these six teams got to the final stage.
I must say that all of them were good, excellent in fact, and the margin of victory in all the categories was very slim. But there had to be a winner, and a loser. So, at the feedback session, some of these very young students wanted to know what went wrong.
I guess it is only natural, in the competitive environment society has created, that one cannot feel great coming out second.
I wish I could declare all of them winners, but such is life, and I tried my best to tell them that they had impressed all the judges not only with their presentations, but also their English communication skills. If they continue to excel in English, which is so rare among our schoolchildren, the future for them is bright indeed.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Or, as my favourite basketball player Michael Jordan puts it, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
I have written many times in this column that it is the journey, not the destination, that makes life meaningful. Our milestones will mark both success and failure, joy and despair.
I am sure all these students, and teachers, spent lots of time preparing for the big day. To win would be a big bonus, but there surely must be great value in the hours of hard work working as a team, the creative juices that flowed, the camaraderie, the laughter and the tears.
I know. I have been through all that before. I was a school debater and it hurt when the other team, especially from our rival school, beat us.
But I knew, even back then, that my English skills in writing and speaking would take me places one day. A little defeat here and there, not only in our school years but throughout life itself too, is good for all of us. Yes, there is joy in victory. But there can also be joy in defeat. Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is not very good at being a judge because he wants everyone to win, so long as he is convinced that they have given their best. The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists Sunday Starters Sunday September 28, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM