06/14/2011 02:52 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2011

The Difference Between a Winner and a Loser

Just when you think that life is steady and predictable, the universe throws a cosmic curve ball at you. Last week I was laid off. Since I know I contributed a lot of value, and put my heart and soul in to my work, I was surprised. Call it corporate restructuring, a career transition -- but really, whatever pretty words you try to name it, the bottom line was, within weeks, I'd be unemployed.

In my near decade long career, I've been hired, fired, recruited and promoted. Similarly, I've made decisions to hire, fire, recruit and demote corporate colleagues. Regardless of what side of the corporate bench I've been on, I like to think I've played fair. By that I mean acted with class and respect. I've come to embrace the one reality of business that no schooling or mentoring can really prepare you for. You can give your all to a company; call corporate peers your friends and family, but you can't change the simple facts. You are a number. You come with a price tag. And as quickly as you can be promoted, you can be tossed in the "position eliminated" pile. Nothing personal - it really isn't. Business decisions are made to benefit the company, and sometimes this comes at your expense.

I've come to learn you cannot control how others react or conduct themselves. All you can do is stick to your values and principles. Always act with professionalism, grace and dignity when faced with a career challenge. Challenges are actually blessings in disguise. They stop you in your comfort zone and give you the opportunity to grow. It's in these moments that you can choose to be a winner or a loser. The only difference between the two is the attitude and perspective in which you choose to see things.

I decided this time that not for a second, would I allow a "woe is me" attitude to control me. From my experience so far, these challenges -- be it a breakup or a career change -- always happen for a reason. When one door closes, it's because another is meant to open. If you are caught up in feeling negative, blaming or playing victim -- you may just miss that next door.

Some words of advice a wise friend recently shared with me: "in your career, you always have to be 'moving water.' Be it a flowing river, or the crashing waves of the ocean -- always be moving. The minute water stops moving and stays still, it begins to rot. This is true in your career growth. The minute you stop learning, stop growing and stop facing challenges, your energy, creativity and zest begins to die slowly.

Choose to win. Choose to be better, every day. Try harder -- put in the effort and the hard work to make things happen for you. Aim further. If you settle for less or put a limit to how far you can go -- you will always stay within those self-created confines.

To resilience. To the choices we get that will ultimately shade our lives in gray or in bright, vibrant colors. To the people who's unwavering support and belief empower you to never doubt your value. To the challenges that enable us to grow bigger, better and stronger. To moving water.

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