“Whoa! What are you talking about? He was safe by a mile! The guy didn’t even tag him! What’s this guy’s deal?”
Jimmy buried his head. He laid there on the ground. He had done his best, he even got his uniform dirty. He felt the kid’s glove touch him seconds before he reached second base. One of his first thoughts wasn’t that he was out; it was wondering how bad Dad’s reaction would be. Now he lay there wondering if he had to get up or if the infield dirt might magically part and swallow him whole.
Sure enough, this was an important enough of a play that Dad was soon out in the middle of the field accusing the umpire of conspiring to cheat his son out of a double. “I’m going to start filming these games so we have instant replay. You guys are lousy umpires. Did that kid’s Dad pay you off? Are you related to that kid?”
Jimmy picked himself up and started walking back to the dugout.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“I was out, Dad.”
“The hell you were, get back on that base and dust yourself off.”
And that marked the end of Dad’s time at the baseball field that day. Jimmy walked back to the dugout, head hung so low he looked half his normal height.
The next day, Jimmy was in the backyard playing with his neighborhood friend Steve. Dad stood at the window watching his boy play. The two boys started running races. Race after race, Steve won. After the fourth race, Jimmy reached over and pushed Steve before he got too far out front. Steve fell down; Jimmy easily won the race. “Why did you do that?” Dad bellowed as he came out the back door. “I was tired of losing,” Jimmy replied. “You’re being a bad loser. You can’t act like that. You’ve got to learn how to take a loss, it’s part of life,” Dad continued. “Real life doesn’t give out participation trophies and you can’t cheat your way through. You can’t win all the time and you have to learn how to accept that.”
Jimmy just stared at him.
There’s no such thing as a trial lawyer who hasn’t lost a trial. You can file a motion and ask the Judge to reconsider her ruling. You can file an appeal. But many times, you just have to accept the outcome. Be dignified in doing so. Learn from it. Self-evaluate. In family law, you can help your client position herself to have a better outcome the next time. For the lawyer, you’ll have another trial.
You certainly can’t just sit down at counsel table and refuse to vacate the courtroom unless the Judge changes her ruling. And you certainly aren’t getting a participation trophy.
The same is true in any career path that measures results by wins or losses.
Sometimes, we all have to walk back to the dugout. It’s far better to do it with dignity.