Rev. Bernie Scianna, OSA, PhD | Senior Associate Dean of Students
“I believe we learn more from losing than winning!
Throughout my life, I have been drawn to leadership positions…a call to serve! Even though I had been elected to leadership positions in scouting, I ran for election as Band President in high school and lost to my best friend from high school. I did agree to serve as secretary and did my best to serve the organization. In my life as an Augustinian, I had been called to serve as a leader in one of our high schools and as a province counselor. But when nominated for Prior Provincial, i.e. the boss, I lost the election. I felt dejected and down. When I announced my loss to the school community, they erupted in applause…because my loss in the election meant I would stay with them as their leader. I never knew losing could be so affirming! I didn’t realize what I had right in front of me! I learned to appreciate who I was, and where I was. I did eventually run for Provincial again and was elected to two terms!
No one really remembers that I lost elections, they remember that I won! But, I remember them! And only as I reflect on all the negative thoughts and feelings of losing do I regroup to move on with greater self-awareness.
As I look back at my life, there are certain people who serve as examples to stay in the race even after losses. One such person is Abraham Lincoln, who lost many elections on his way to the presidency! He did his best to learn from his mistakes and failures, reflect on them and remain available to grow and serve. His sense of humility and humble service is always a good reminder to me!
Also, I had hoped to be assigned to Villanova two other times before I was actually allowed to be here. The first time was in 1997 and the second in 2006, but the Provincial would not allow me to take the positions offered then. However, In 2019, I was given the green light to minister here.
Instead of being bitter or resentful of past decisions, I accepted the roles given and did my best! However, I was ready and willing to join the Villanova Community when invited for the third time! Patience, perseverance and joy make the journey worthwhile!
I believe we do indeed learn more from our losses than our victories. My faith, family and friends help me to reflect on both my successes and failures, wins and losses, to recognize the blessings that are present in my life right now, to accept limitations and losses, to be resilient in the midst of trauma, and to rise up time and time again to run the race, fight the good fight and do it with joy! Pope Francis says that joy is the confident assurance of the presence of God!
I used to believe that I had to be perfect in studies and in life but life’s losses and failures have shown me that no one is perfect and now I believe that perfectionism is not the goal, in fact, I believe it may be harmful and even sinful. I am human, I have been humbled, and in accepting that, I can and have and will continue to rise up and rise above and do my best to live and love, to serve and smile and to know that I’ve done my best and that’s all God and I can expect from myself!
So in the words of St. Augustine, “Always be dissatisfied with where you are if you are to become what you are not yet. Evaluate yourself constantly, without guile or flattery. Say ‘it is enough’ and you are lost … Keep on moving forward, walk onward, make progress!”