While no one likes to lose, new research suggests an upside to certain kinds of failure: When you get knocked down in one battle, you’ll show up stronger in the next.
According to the research from INSEAD, published in the journal Psychological Science, nearly winning can make you more motivated to seek another, unrelated reward.
For example, almost sealing a deal at work could push you to work harder at your fitness goals — harder than if you’d closed successfully or lost the client early in the process.
In one experiment reported in the paper, researchers had participants use a phone game app that involved lifting up tiles to uncover either a diamond or a rock. The object of the game was to find eight diamonds without finding any rocks.
Unbeknownst to the participants, the researchers had rigged the game so that some people found seven diamonds in a row and missed on the last turn; some found seven diamonds but missed on their second turn; and some found a rock on their first turns.
When they completed the game, participants were offered a chocolate bar as a thank-you gift. Results showed that participants who missed a diamond on their last turn walked fastest to get the chocolate. In other words, those who anticipated a win until the very end of the game, but experienced a narrow miss were most motivated to seek another reward.
Take comfort that the next time you miss one goal, it may be just the motivation you need to secure the next win.
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