I watched it live. But even if you didn’t see it live and you watched the news over the weekend, you likely saw the video clip of rookie driver, J. R. Hildrebrand crashing in the final turn of the final lap of the Indianapolis 500. According to this ESPN post J.R. Hildebrand not alone in Indy misery.

Hildrebrand’s car limped to a second place finish after winner Dan Wheldon passed him just before the finish line. Wheldon led only 1000 feet of the 500 mile race for a stunning Indy win.

It is hard to lose. It is harder to lose when victory is in your grasp and you personally blow it. But, it can also be hard to win when you know you only won because someone else blew it. Your future depends on how you deal with the “thrill of an unexpected victory” or the “agony of an unexpected defeat.”

Nine months ago I wrote Your Career May Ride on How You Respond to a Big Loss. I shared the story of my devastating loss in a trial. My adversary had argued the reasonable cost to complete construction was $30,000. I argued it was $130,000. The jury had to answer that specific question and they found 0 as the reasonable amount to complete construction.

I almost gave up litigation after that trial. I was in a “funk” for longer than I care to remember. I kept asking what I had done that got the jury so confused.

Finally, I quit feeling sorry for myself and began looking forward. I learned from my loss and became a better lawyer.  As I often tell young lawyers:

I learned way more from losing than I ever learned from winning. (But, it was an awful experience).

Sometime in your career something will go wrong. While it will be painful, you must pick yourself up and get your head back in the game and move on.