Can a loss ever be considered a victory?

By | December 8, 2014

Spending a Sunday on the couch watching ‘professionals’ play brought this question of victory versus loss to my mind!

Moral Victory: A moral victory occurs when a person, team, army or other group loses a confrontation, and yet achieves some other moral gain. This gain might be unrelated to the confrontation in question, and the gain is often considerably less than what would have been accomplished if an actual victory had been achieved.

And for those who may be wondering the answer is yes, I am a New Yorker who spent his Sunday watching the New York sports teams I follow (Jets and Knicks) lose, again.

But, according to some pundits, they may have looked better while doing it!

Once again having actually spent the hours watching them, I would have to respectfully disagree with that description.

To my way of thinking both the New York Jets and Knicks lost their games as they have lost so many before them this season and in season past.

Mistakes both mental and physical and a lack of attention to the fundamentals such as avoiding penalties.

But most critically (particularly for the Knicks) it was a lack of a team concept and a reliance on individual playmakers to do it on their own.

This despite spending large sums to bring in a management guru (Phil Jackson) and to keep players such as Carmelo Anthony who for anyone watching the past few years is incapable of playing within a team concept.

So to recap we have the the Jets whose season is lost and about to end losing in overtime and the Knicks whose season is beginning but is essentially over playing competitively against a better team and ultimately losing at the end.

Do these losses represent moral victories?

Of course ‘we can’t win them all’ and if we learn from a loss and take some valuable lessons away with us that we correct and never do again then losing can have value.

But when is a loss not a moral victory at all but simply a loss?

If we are up against a team or business we have never beaten before and come closer and closer then it may not be what I would term a moral victory, but it could be inspiring and motivational.

That is of course if losing has not already become a mental fixture deeply imbedded in a corporate or team culture.

Coming close and losing at the buzzer or a business being cut from a contract competition in the last wave can in fact at times be a moral victory because, if truth be told, not every team or business possesses the same level of talent or resources as others they may be competing against.

Small businesses or small market teams need to build to a point where they can consistently win against larger and better endowed rivals on a consistent basis.

But what if you are one of the large market teams or businesses who has been competing for a long period of time while possessing similar if not better talent and the same if not greater resources as your competition, and you consistently lose?

In that case I don’t believe that ‘moral victories can exist and instead, an organization needs to look at its management and ‘players’ with an eye towards making changes!

But what if the management who has failed in the past is the one making the decisions? Will they fire themselves or admit to their own failure in decision making?

What if ownership is weak or worse is strong and meddles in decisions they know little about? And what if management lacks vision and a good strategic plan that thinks about potential moves three steps ahead?

In that case you get the New York Knicks or Research in Motion (Blackberry) that represent organizations entering a period where small losses, I’m afraid, do not represent moral victories!


Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.

HAS is a provider of title insurance in New York State for residential and commercial real estate transactions specializing in the areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester.

For anyone either buying a property or refinancing, remember that although your attorney will likely recommend a title insurance provider, you always have the right to choose your own title company (click here to learn more)!

If you have any questions you can reach Michael by email at

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