The other reaction is a simple shutdown. The brain reacts to the negative outcome as a threat, and chooses to take focus off the mistake in order to protect itself. In this case, the mistake is made again and again.

So what can we do to be more like Dukakis, taking difficult losses and learning from them rather than shutting down?

We change our reaction.

While we can’t change our personalities—some will be more prone to shutting down after negative feedback, while others will thrive and do better—we can work to alter our responses.

If you’re the type to shut down, remember this: when you make a mistake or receive negative feedback, do not panic. Breathe. Calm yourself.

Focus on the mistake, and see it for what it is—an opportunity to improve, to grow, to become better at what you do.

And those mistakes will come. Your life will be full of them.

Dukakis summed this up well, saying “Look, if you go into politics, don’t be surprised if there are at least some people who go at you critically. That’s a part of life, and you’ve got to be able to handle it.”

Indeed. That’s life. But if you can learn to mistakes as opportunities for growth, your life will be all the better for it.

You’ll learn to win by losing.

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