“The Happy Loser” Archetype By Clotaire Rapaille

While waiting at the dentist, I picked up the April issue of Inc. Magazine and stumbled upon an article entitled, “The Secret Of Their Success.”  The article discusses what really drives salespeople to succeed.  We are all salespeople, whether we know it or not, which is why being a happy loser helps bring out the best in everyone.

Clotaire Rapaille, a psychoanalyst and ethnographer describes a happy loser as someone who sees rejection as a challenge.  The first “no” stimulates their brains to want to try harder and not give up.  Clotaire highlights one example where a firm defines success not by how many wins a salesperson achieves, but by how many rejections instead.

In other words, until the happy loser receives a “no” from a perspective client, he or she has not succeeded.  The Happy Loser archetype is similar to one who loses a tough tennis match.  Instead of making excuses, the happy loser goes and runs 10 miles, hires a coach, hits 1000 serves and does everything possible to prepare to win the next time around.

I’ve always believed that the most intimidating opponent is the one whose been rejected all throughout high school.  Those are the guys who’ve experienced enough rejection to last a lifetime.  With a large chip on their shoulders, they have an unwavering desire to prove people wrong and so happen to often be the biggest successes.  All that anger is bottled up into a cannon used to blow away the competition.

Some may wonder whether being a happy loser can be taught.  The answer is yes!  By shifting your mindset to look for NO’s you will gradually start experiencing the thrill of rejection.  In You’re Rejected!  How I Use Rejection To Motivate Me Every Single Day“, I touch upon the concept of seeking rejection from those at the top.  Once you do, your motivation will sky rocket.

Readers, are you a happy loser or a sad loser?  Do you get motivated after a rejection or depressed?

How were you perceived in high school?  And have you ever had a desire so great to prove your detractors wrong?

Keigu,

Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Setbacks and rejection are never fun, but I think they’re a part of life. I don’t think anyone is exempt from them.

    I don’t think I’m necessarily a happy loser, but I like to think of difficulties as a test of perseverance. Then I try to endure and keep plugging away at whatever I’m trying to do.
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..What’s More Important – Your Money Or Your Life? =-.

  2. San says

    Interesting point of view. Going after your logic I should run Germany by now and not Angie Merkel. I got a lot of rejections throughout this last year (and all through school and university) but I never looked at them as motivation.

    Your article is a classic “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” to me. Yesterday I asked the universe to give me a sign for the right direction. Today I read your “You’re rejected” article and well, at least I printed it out and cleared my desk, but I didn’t actually sat down to write applications. And now this reminder, like a butt kick by the universe. Well, I guess you and the universe are telling me to finally get my a** moving.

    “Brain” tries to take over the world every night, no matter how often he and “Pinky” fail.
    .-= San´s last blog ..Old shop gate – Anger-Crottendorf, Leipzig =-.

    • says

      Pink & The Brain… love it! That’s cool you printed it out and put it on your desk. I suggest printing out all your rejection notes as well! It’s given me so much fire, it’s been awesome!

      Good job passing the Bailout Money vote!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

  3. San says

    Going by your logic I should be leading Germany now and not Angie Merkel. (Okay, I’m maybe a bit young for it but still.) I’ve been rejected all through school and university, but I never saw it as motivation. Same goes for the rejections of my job applications in the last few months.

    This post is a “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” for me. Just yesterday I asked the Universe for a sign what I should do, seems it gave me a major butt kick, because I read the “You’re rejected” post earlier today and now this. ;-D I printed your older post and set my desk up differently, now it’s made for applications. I even got a “Pinky and the Brain” wall paper on my desktop now to remind me of my goal.

    Thank you for this and your older post.

    Cheers.
    .-= San´s last blog ..Old shop gate – Anger-Crottendorf, Leipzig =-.

    • says

      Yeah, after the rejected WB guest post last fall, I wanted to do something, anything to prove that it deserved to be published on a decent size stage. And so, I created my own stage with this site.

      I hear you on women. Can be a tricky one indeed! But don’t forget, it’s a numbers game when it comes to women. Eventually you will find one!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

  4. cm says

    I prefer to keep my goals *not* about me (contrary to a “desire so great to prove your detractors wrong?”) but about my goals and their value to me and to others. If people don’t want to hire me, it’s not about my proving them wrong–it’s simply about me trying to find someone who will hire me, or find another way to earn my living. It’s a practical problem, not a personal one.

    I don’t like it at all when others thwart my goals by not hiring me, not contacting me, etc. I’m not “happy” about it at all. But it’s not because I believe they were “right” about me, it’s because I didn’t get what I wanted. I do get down about it and grouse a bit, which I think is emotionally normal and healthy, but I try not to *stay* down about it, and keep trying.

  5. says

    Intellectually I agree with this argument, but in practice I know I find criticism and rejection hard to take. It’s been a problem all my life – I find it pretty easy to coast to 7/10 standards in almost anything, but almost impossible to strive for 9 or 10/10 standard.

    I think people respond to rejection in two ways – some obviously become the warriors your post conclude with, but other sensitive souls like myself end up reading a lot of French philosophy and skipping college to take lonely walks in graveyards.

    What? That was just me? ;)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Naked short selling: All shout, no trousers =-.

    • says

      You’re right.. it’s DAMN HARD to try and get to the 9-10/10 standard… at least for an extended period of time. That’s why consistency and perseverance are so important.

      Lonely walks in graveyards….. in the middle of the night…………… what a pretty happy picture! Who knows, maybe one day you will find a lonely woman there feeling the same way. Or, she might be a vampire!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

  6. says

    I love this post! I’m creating a summer workshop and the section on sales is called “Please Reject Me”. Resolve comes from repeatedly having to get back up. Well done.
    .-= Beth Andrus´s last blog ..The Essential Business Handbook =-.

  7. says

    I like to think that I am a happy loser. I mean I don’t think anyone really likes to get a “no” or a rejection, especially in higher stakes situations. I do identify with the thrill of the challenge though and persevering to the very end to achieve a goal. Especially as a consultant these days I think I get almost as many “no’s” as bids I put out but it’s the challenge to be better than the rest that keeps you going. Love posts like this that make you sit and think about the attitude you really have, nice work.
    .-= Nunzio Bruno´s last blog ..Why social media in financial services? =-.

  8. Charlie says

    Setbacks and problems have definitely made me a better manager. If I had perfect employees my whole career, I wouldn’t have learned a whole lot and definitely wouldn’t be as good at my job as I am now. I guess you could say I’ve been fortunate to have had a huge range of personalities and skill levels to manage and it’s really helped me learn how to be better at my job.

    Sometimes things just don’t work out and I have to fire someone. Does that mean I’ve failed as a manager – yes and no, but it definitely makes me more careful about who I hire, more aware of how to keep people motivated, how to be a better coach and very experienced at giving people constructive criticism and feedback.

  9. Sandy L says

    Wow..this is so true. Great article.

    I’ve been in sales for 5 years (1/3 of my diverse career) and I recently had some interviews for a different technical job. One of the questions they asked was “what did you learn from your time in sales.” I didn’t have a prepped answer but when I thought about it, I realized that in sales you learn to how to fail and fail a lot. In other jobs, my perception was that failing was a sign that I did something the wrong way and I missed something critical in my project planning or execution.

    In my sales role, closure rate is about 30%, so you fail on average 7 out of 10 times. It’s just an odds game. You know only so many of your prospects will come to fruition, so you need a lot of them. Failing often just means that your odds of succeeding go up.

    This change in thinking has made it so much easier to take the emotion out of my work. I used to get really wrapped up in the highs and lows at work. I still have that tendency but don’t take things as personally anymore.

    • says

      Amazing… a 30% only closure rate creates thick skins! Exactly “failing often just means that your odds of succeeding go up!” Perhaps everybody should have a direct sales role. It’ll probably make them stronger in whatever else they do in the future!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

  10. says

    Interesting post. I have to say I’m not sure I agree with the idea that people can be taught to be “happy losers”. I think the really good ones, the naturals, have it as a talent they were born with. Perhaps we all can get a bit better at it but it seems to me to be mostly in the genes. I say this having worked with some top notch sales people who rise to the occassion whenever they see a rejection coming on.
    .-= DIY Investor´s last blog ..DIY Investor – Completion Index =-.

  11. says

    For me, it depends on the situation. If I feel I wasn’t given a fair chance, then I am a bitter-loser. If it was a ‘shot-in-the-dark- kind of thing, I accept it and try to get more creative.

    I will say that when I was trying to raise money for something, I did take ‘no’ as a challenge. I worked hard to make people see that they could give something, if only 5 dollars. I came up with ideas that I had no idea where they came from, but I was very successful. (The number of people donating was just as important as the amount.) But I really believed in what I was ‘selling’, which made me determined. That was probably more the key to my success than being told ‘no’.
    .-= Kris´s last blog ..Tips for Traveling With Kids =-.

  12. says

    I think this sort of depends on the person’s personality. For instance, some people are very sore losers, I can’t see them gaining more momentum, instead they may just sulk. On the other hand, those who have experienced loss or unhappiness may rejoice more once they do succeed. They also may have learned a great deal in the process.
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Livable Living Expenses =-.

  13. says

    Do you get motivated after a rejection or depressed?

    I love hearing feedback from others (because it helps me learn). But the [i]opinion[/i] of others doesn’t have too much impact on my view of myself.

    I was talking about this with my boy Timothy just last night. He said that he sometimes worries before he drifts off to sleep how he will do in a test or in a baseball game or in a play or whatever. I told him that I have never much worried about that stuff. However, I worry [i]all the time[/i] about living up to my own standards. When I fail that test, I feel awful.

    I was a solid “B” student my entire life. No matter how hard a course is, I feel that I must do the work needed to earn a “B.” But I have never felt sufficiently driven to earn “A”s. My personal view is that a solid “B” is good enough and, once I’ve done the work it takes to earn a “B”, I should be directing my efforts to other things.

    This is also why I often sign off my posts with the words “my take.” I care greatly about putting forward the best take that I am capable of putting forward. If people like that take, I’m happy. If they don’t, I’m also happy. If I did my part, I don’t see why I should be concerned about how people react to what I said. I read reactions to learn from them. But I view the take being expressed as being solely the responsibility of the person putting it forward; I don’t see how it reflects on me (unless it teaches me something new that I need to take into consideration).

    Rob

  14. says

    Well, I will mope for awhile and then put in the gears to be a happy loser. When someone says ‘no’, it sets off an internal ticker. ‘why did they say ‘no”…’what can i do to increase my chances of ‘yes’ the next time it happens’.

    But I think it could also be a fault to be a happy loser. What if a person spend so much time fixated on the subject that they work to hard and burnout or can’t see that its time to be a sad loser and move on.

    Could be a double edge sword.
    .-= Money Funk´s last blog ..The Best Recycling Websites =-.

    • says

      “Why did they say no?” is a GREAT question to ask! That’s problem solving right there! Shows you aren’t accepting NO for an answer at all.

      You aren’t a “happy” loser if you burnout, so that is out of the equation :)
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Dark Side Of Early Retirement =-.

  15. says

    I don’t really take losing or winning that hard at all. It’s just part of the way things are. Obviously I enjoy being successful but it isn’t the be all and end all of everything. Losing, well it can suck if you care about the thing but generally I don’t care.

    To me it’s important I did my best, if it matters to me and if I feel I could have done better, even if I win, then the determination ‘go out and run 10 miles’ kicks in.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..A Pledge To Never Take Credit Again! =-.

  16. says

    Hey Sam – I’d say that I have trouble reacting at all to rejection. It doesn’t really bother me and although it does lead me to re-evaluate whatever it is that caused the rejection, I don’t think I get much motivation out of it either. I tend to just accept the rejection and move on.

    And if I have my mind set on a goal, then I strive to achieve that goal with all the effort I can summon. Whether or not I have been rejected or even if it turns out to be a smooth ride, I still always believe that every goal is reachable.
    .-= Earl´s last blog ..The Strange Habits Of A Traveler =-.

      • says

        My major goal at the moment is to figure out a way to earn a living from my life of constant travel. I’m ready to be more than someone who just loves to travel but who works on side projects in order to fund that lifestyle. I want to do something with all of the unique knowledge I’ve gained and to share my experiences with those who may be interested. The blog is a start!
        .-= Earl´s last blog ..The Strange Habits Of A Traveler =-.

        • says

          I feel that it is important to simply keep your eyes open when you travel. I’ve found several excellent opportunities around the world to help grow my money that I never knew existed before I began traveling.

          For example, I was lucky to stumble upon an opportunity to grow my money by providing high-interest, short-term loans to businesses in Mexico. It’s a little complicated but it involves a completely legal and dependable loan-giving system that has sprung into existence because of all the red tape involved with securing bank loans down there.

          In addition, I rarely spend more than $800 per month no matter where in the world I am. And with such low expenses, it’s incredible how much one can save even if they only earn $2000 per month, as long as they have a little discipline!
          .-= Earl´s last blog ..The Strange Habits Of A Traveler =-.

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