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Roll and repeat?

Members of Wake and District are hitting the road this holiday weekend to Greenville, SC for Gallabrae presented by the Greenville Scottish Games at Furman University.

Our members will be competing in band and solo competition events.  Our thanks to Nick Williams for doing a superb job of wrangling the pipe bands and solo events scheduled throughout the day; we know this is not an easy undertaking.  We will surely post photos and results from the field.  To all of the bands and our many family and friends heading out…SAFE TRAVELS.


As we forge forward into the pipe band competition season we ponder the impending vicissitudes: the thrill of success, and the agony of defeat—not the euphemism, the real deal— registering in every fiber of our  being and right there for everyone to see.


Folks may start out with the best intentions and grip on their emotions picture— the tuning to Scotland the Brave, flam after flam — but with the first error (or perceived error) things degenerate quickly and it’s Jackson Pollock on a bad day. There’s the pre-game freak out, the post-game melt down, the throwing down of the pipes, drumsticks, or whatever the case may be, followed by the “I hate everything, everything stinks, I quit” self-recrimination rant that occurs once the doors auto-shut on the mini-van.


Why is it that some players can’t lose? Is it their über focus on getting being the “champion”, the pressure to accept anything else but beyond the best? While there is no doubt that those success-crazed folks gone wild don’t help and need to be benched themselves, usually they only broadcast in stereo the message going through a player’s own mind: winning is everything; losing is the end of the world as we know it.


It’s also clear that our culture is out of whack, witness the 5:00 am sports practices, travel tournaments for 2nd graders, and cut-throat competition for all. While rectifying these variables will certainly improve the outcome, it will not eliminate the problem of folks who fall apart in the face of defeat. Especially since many of these folks fall apart even with just the anticipation of defeat. 


So losing isn’t the real disaster for these people, their relationship to losing, is the disaster.


We have all been witness to the poor sportsmanship and in those moments we thank goodness it’s somebody else’s band freaking out this time and not ours. But if you’re a player, chances are your number will come up, and you will be that band too. Until you can help your fellow players change the news feed in their mind about what just happened, no reassurance or tough love will be a match for the wrath or despair of your miserable player in ghilless.


What’s it all about? Are we being bratty sore losers, or is there call for compassion?


No one likes to lose, but for some folks losing isn’t a superficial scratch on the ego, it goes deep. In fact the reason why some have trouble losing is that they can’t hold on to who they were before the loss; instead, no matter how many successes they had under their belt, the loss transforms them irrevocably into a loser. It’s as if each game is a gamble where they put all their chips on the table, and if they lose, they’re cleaned out of all of their assets. If this is starting to sound like some people you know, including yourself, read on, the solutions are pretty much one size fits all.


The secret to a successful season isn’t just taping up the chanter, getting your tempos right, roll and repeat… it’s building up your muscle to lift yourself out of disappointment, and quickly. 


Even if your putting in hours everyday practicing, the way you ares going to succeed in piping and drumming (and in life) is to make friends with, or at least not be mortal enemies with, losing.


In sports more than any other arena, losing is a built-in. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s the other team, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. And yet, for many, it’s like they never saw it coming and it knocks them flat on the ground. 


The more who can re-think what it means to lose, the more they will be resilient people—not only bouncing back from disappointments, but coming back stronger, because they’ve made use of what went wrong to improve— for the next time— what they can do right.

Adapted from Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility and Happiness, DaCapo, 2008.

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