Leader Don’ts #3: Accept Defeat

By | March 28, 2019

[March 28, 2019] After my initial tour of duty overseas in West Germany, the first movie I saw upon my return was Rocky (1976). Starring Sylvester Stallone, this movie was a come-from-behind story about an uneducated, small-time boxer who wants to regain his self-respect by fighting the world heavy-weight champion. It’s about one man’s desire never to accept defeat.

Winston Churchill’s speech ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ is one of the defining speeches during World War II. Full audio of the June 4, 1940 speech can be found here (see link, 2:00 minutes). In part, he said:

“We shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Never give up. Never accept defeat. Winston Churchill knew that his citizens needed to understand their leaders were there with them; no matter what the odds. These have been the words of many great leaders throughout history. Often, during times a nation has faced an existential threat from without, hard times required hard decisions. Some say we should brush aside these ideas as antiquated notions of yesteryear. Real leaders know different.

Today’s young have never seen war, rarely seen disaster that plagued the old world. They grew up getting a trophy for participation and are told they are smart, talented, sexy, and the world owes them. Such behavior is antithetical to learning the importance of never surrendering when the going gets tough. As leaders, we know.

The leadership lesson is, never accept defeat.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

26 thoughts on “Leader Don’ts #3: Accept Defeat

  1. Kenny Foster

    Never quit. Never accept defeat. That is a philosophy I live by and it works.

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      ….. and it works and keeps on working.

  2. Wilson Cox

    You can accept defeat graciously but it is always better to never be defeated.

  3. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Poem by Matt Forshay:

    I Never Accept Defeat
    The pain I feel it,
    Every day,
    But bit by bit,
    I let it fade away,

    Smiles and tears,
    Love and hate,
    Either Far or near,
    Past, future, and fate,

    I feel so alive,
    I feel so lost,
    I know I will survive,
    No matter what the cost,

    I don’t care if you put me down,
    I’ll get up to my feet,
    For I never stay on the ground,
    I will never accept defeat.

  4. Eric Coda

    If you feel defeated and you think, “I’m tired and I’m weary and I’ve had it,” that is exactly how it will be.

  5. Willie Shrumburger

    I’m a big fan of Norman Vincent Peale, the writer of The Power of Positive Thinking because reading that book turned my life around and got me through a time of great difficulty. Just another example of never accepting defeat, no matter what.

    1. Watson Bell

      I had to altar my thoughts and take seriously the counsel in this book The Power of Positive Thinking and so have always admired his writings and excellent, very applicable advice. The principles are based on the truths of the Word, and it works! If you are going through a time of severe testing and feel tempted to accept defeat- keep reading and don’t give up!

  6. Gil Johnson

    No matter how difficult the moment may seem as you’re going through it, it’s absolutely essential that you keep grinding and moving forward. Life demands that you believe in yourself, even when you have doubt. Even when you’ve failed. Even when you’re disappointed, bitter, frustrated, angry, hurt, sorrowful and grieving.

  7. The Kid 1945

    “While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.” — Maya Angelou

    1. JT Patterson

      Quotable quote, “Any belief we hold is a state of mind that we can influence through the power of our own thoughts. Emotions impact our mindset all throughout the day, challenging us and lifting our spirits. We hold the power to never give in to shallow temptations or relinquish our power to control our thoughts.”

    2. Yusaf from Texas

      Good quote and reference. Thanks JT.

  8. AutisticTechie

    “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.” quote by past US President Bill Clinton

  9. Shawn C. Stolarz

    If you feel defeated and you think, I’m tired and weary and I’ve had it that is exactly how it will be. But if, when the going gets rough, you think, I won’t accept this. I will continue to think victory and not defeat, then all the resources of your nature flow toward achieving victory.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      I agree with you Shawn. How many times have you failed at something because you simply didn’t try hard enough or long enough? The test of an individual’s character is how determined he is.

  10. Georgie M.

    Great mini-series. Thank you. The worst thing a leader can do is be one who betrays their friends and family. Suggestion for a future subject.

    1. Scotty Bush

      I agree with your suggestion. Betrayal is the breaking of the bonds of trust. This is the worst thing a leader can do. It even surpasses stupidity.

    2. lydia truman

      Excellent recommendation. You get a thumbs up from me on it.

  11. Army Captain

    Yes! Loved the movie too. I watched it again earlier this year and confirmed to myself that this is an iconic movie. Many lessons from it.

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