Muhammad Ali Shows Us How to Win By Defeat

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” – Muhammad Ali

I thought of this quote when the Golden State Warriors came back from being down 1-3 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. I didn’t believe they could do it to be honest, but I also thought if anyone could pull off that improbable feat, it would be them.

And more personally, Ali’s quote helps me welcome each small and large defeat I experience (I was about to use the word suffer, but that’s not really true, so experience it is). Real, honest defeat is like money in the persistence bank, like having a wallet full of resiliency. If we’re no longer afraid of defeat, but instead welcome it, there’s very little else to fear.

The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke knew this well. He wrote, “This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.”

Each defeat calmly experienced and welcomed marinates us, gives us power. Here’s to defeat, and here’s to strong growth from defeat.


Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 

40 Days to Change For Good – Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts.

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