Warning: If you believe every kid gets a trophy, this article is not for you. But if you use words like win, winner, loser, and first place, then keep reading.

Working in the lumber and building materials industry is rarely ever glamorous, nor is it easy to drive home with a trophy after a big win. Lumberyards are full of winners and losers. In the world we live in, I have to be careful I don’t offend those who are content to finish in second place. I prefer to talk to the professionals in this industry that want more.

I have been recruiting in this industry for a long time. I have seen all sorts of candidates and I’ve visited all sorts of lumberyards and manufacturing plants. In my earlier days, I was part of the invasion force that went into Iraq in 2003. Obviously, these are two different environments; however, the definition of losing to a soldier is ending up in a pine box. The definition of losing to the lumberyard employee does not hold the same consequence; instead, it’s the monetary loss that hurts.

Take an outside contractor salesperson as an example. He/she puts in a bid on a job and wins, or closes the deal on being the major supplier for a large development. If that’s you, you won. Not only have you closed the deal, but you also have a hefty commission check coming.

No Bonus for Second Place
You are a winner and it feels great. Would you rather feel like your competitor who lost? Do you sympathize with that person, or do you empathize? How often would the boss of the losing salesperson ever say, “You gave it your best Bob, I’ll give you commission on it anyway?”

We are supposed to feel like a loser when we lose. Losing makes us better at what we do, and the fear of losing makes us push harder to win. Losing carries consequences, and if it doesn’t, then why in the world would we try to win?

As a recruiter in the building products industry, you can only imagine the different personalities I deal with on a daily basis. I can confidently say each one of my clients look to hire winners. “Is this a winner?’ is the first thing that CEO asks while looking at a resume.

Job seekers in this industry face losses every day. There are good people out there who are looking for a break and it never comes. Some of these people will break their backs for the company that hires them, but they never get the opportunity. There are other job seekers out there who are winners as well, but they are winners stuck on losing teams.

Proactives Preferred
Either way, the successful candidate that stands out to me and my clients is the proactive candidate. These are the candidates who know that this is a pay-to-play industry. These are the employees who paid their dues with hard work and developed solid reputations in the industry.

I’m not batting a perfect average either. I’ve lost just as much as the next recruiter, and it sucks to lose. Early in my career, I would get angry and overcome with emotion after a lost deal. Depression would set in for a few. With age and experience, along came maturity and I learned how not to lose.

Winning has become everything to me. I win gracefully. I am a team player, I play by the rules. And losing has become a learning experience, not a trophy or paycheck experience.

If you desire the trophy or the paycheck, ask yourself these questions when you lose.

  • What did I do wrong?
  • What did I do right?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Did I put my heart and soul into winning?
  • Do I want to lose again?
  • How do I feel right now?

Winners ask those questions of themselves. Winners move on and try to close the next sale; they don’t sit back and lay blame or spend time complaining. Winners focus on the solution and make the fix no matter what. Winners don’t settle for second place. Every problem has solution, and winners focus on the solution, not the problem.