17 People Share Times When They Lost Despite An Absolutely Flawless Performance

There’s this idea that most humans have that, if they play or perform or otherwise turn in their very best work, a win will always result. Whether it’s a game, a performance, an interview or other project at work, though, experience tells us that’s just not true.

You can, in fact, lose no matter how hard you try – and no matter how few mistakes you make along the way.

These 17 people are sharing the stories of the time that was (sadly) true for them.

17. They don’t even need a reason.

When despite doing everything your boss tells you, you still get fired.

Or when you outperform everyone else on your team for years and are due for a promotion but instead your boss’s freshly hired 20 years younger girlfriend gets the promotion.

16. Their hands were tied.

My team at work getting absolutely reamed out and having year-end bonuses denied to us because of a major outage on one of our systems…

The outage was caused by a bug that we were among the first in the world to experience and the vendor hadn’t even published an advisory yet much less released the patch to fix it.

There was literally nothing we could have done to avoid it.

15. Chronic illness is a hard thing.


Sometimes you can be very careful to avoid all your triggers, and still end up stuck in the bathroom for a few hours.

14. Ah, the old coin toss.

I’ve lost many board games and card games simply because I didn’t go first.

We used to play Axis & Allies at work. We had the game set up in the break room and play a round or two over lunch. It was great fun until someone figured out that:

The (original) game is rigged against Germany, so you have only about a 30% chance of victory as the Axis powers.

You can, as Germany, forget about Russia and instead throw all of your units at Britain instead on turn 1. You have about 35-40% odds of victory, and if you lose the assault you basically lose the game right then. But if you succeed, you basically win, so the best strategy was always to do it.

Thus, several games began and ended on turn 1, to the annoyance of everyone. We had to house rule turn order to fix it.

13. Despite the bootstrap argument.


A lot of people living in poverty were simply born into it. It’s a slippery slope that can be extremely difficult (though not impossible) to escape. When you start life as a child in poverty, you can do everything exactly right and still wind up spending your entire life there.

12. You can’t save everyone.

I worked as a paramedic for 15 years.

You can do everything right but if it’s not going to happen it’s just not going to happen.

11. Such a hard part of the job.

My job as a veterinarian.

I can make all the right recommendations and the clients can choose to do all the things, testing and treatments, and their pets still sometimes die.

10. Sometimes your time is up.

ER nurse here. We had a doc that collapsed while on shift. It was during the last ten minutes of the shift and the doc coming on shift next was in his car in the parking lot.

The doc that collapsed was in the middle of starting a central line on a patient and had a nurse at bedside in case he needed anything. Doc goes down and nurse starts working him on the floor while yelling for help.

Get him on a stretcher and everyone’s on board and code is started. Someone went and got the other doc from the parking lot. So you have a person that collapsed, not only in a hospital but in the ER, cpr started immediately, and he didn’t make it.

Dude was in great shape too. We never got anything close to a pulse or even an organized rhythm. When it’s your time, it’s your time.

9. Plenty of luck is involved.


Someone can do absolutely everything right. They can work harder than anybody else. Play to the highest level that their talent allows, and they still will not make it professionally.

No matter the amount of effort I put in, I simply will never throw a 100 MPH fastball.

8. They had to make a choice.

Not getting a job offer from the interview.

Sometimes you didn’t do anything wrong. Sometimes the other candidates were just better.

Sometimes, you were just as good, but they simply had to make a choice because of the limited amount of vacancies.

7. Life isn’t fair.

I’ve been spending two years and 20K in college debt to become a personal trainer. I’m supposed to graduate this spring.

Then my back got ruined in a car crash last month. The prognosis being “ongoing pain management”.

Screw me, right? ‘Cause it’s not like I’m trying to escape my current life situation or anything. /s

6. So much goes on behind the scenes.

I was on a committee once where we had to decide which groups got funds for their projects.

There were limited funds and out of ~20 groups that applied for funds only 4 or 5 got them even though we felt that 10 or 12 of them actually deserved it.

Those that got funds were randomly selected from the 10 or 12 we thought deserved it. Made me very frustrated.

5. Family relationships are their own beast.

My brother was always that kind of son who made everything he wasn’t supposed to do. I tried to be the best daughter I could and support my mom in everything she needed.

Now my brother has a really good relationship with her and I barely talk with her

4. Accidents happen.

Driving comes to mind. A lot of collisions involve one person doing everything they should be and another being an idiot.

Although you followed all of the rules of the road you still lost by getting rear ended by someone on their phone.

And when you’re on a bike or walking assume you’re invisible to everyone else. Never take your right of way for granted when you’re not having the car as a safety zone around you. The driver might be sorry, but you’re the one with broken bones (or worse).

3. There’s payoff in being a jerk.

Many successful people aren’t good.

I’d argue there’s a natural selection for very successful people like CEOs to be “not good”. Same for massive corporations like Walmart or Amazon.

Evil is profitable, and people/corporations not willing to do the same literally can’t compete. For example, environmentally-friendly manufacturing won’t make as much money, won’t get as cheap prices, and are at a competitive disadvantage vs other corporations not bound to ethical business practices.

2. You can’t control other people.

Being the best partner you can be in a relationship and having them fall out of love or cheat on you.

Stories always make them seem directly attainable – you do the right thing, and the person will fall in love with you, you keep doing the right thing and they’ll stay with you forever.

But in reality… like, if someone doesn’t want to date you, and then you rescue them from a burning building, they still won’t want to date you.

1. It shouldn’t be this way.

Sacrificed large parts of my childhood in order to be the “best” (read: most obedient) kid out of myself and my siblings, ended up being nothing more than a scapegoat

Though you could argue that the mistake was listening without question in the first place.

It hurts to lose out on something you know you deserve, but all you can do is know that you did your best and try again next time.

Have you had a tough experience like this? Tell us about it in the comments!