Most of life isn't clear victories or losses.
It's something in the middle. It moves forward, or sometimes sits still, but, for most of us, it's never really that terrible or fantastic.
And even when it is terrible, it's not the end of the world, and when it's fantastic it's not exactly perfect.
That's why it's really hard to see someone's truest self. I think that comes out when we're pushed to extremes. Otherwise, we're just kind of herding forward, and going with the flow.
The most revelation I've seen in people comes after success or failure. Success can change people. It can make them forget loyalty and redefine for themselves the story of how they got to now.
Or, they stay the same exact person--which is a triumph of their character and what you really love to see. They approach life awestruck and appreciative.
Failure can bring out the worst in people. They don't go down in a blaze of glory but instead go down in an all consuming fireball that takes out anyone close to them. The worst things anyone has ever done to others have often come in the last moments before ultimate failure--out of a desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable.
Or, they stay the same exact person--a little bent or bruised, but able to exhale, stand up, and say they tried. Their first instinct is to look around and help whoever else might have been affected by the failure. They collect their thoughts and begin a learning and a healing process--and they do so in a way that builds understanding, perspective, and character. They're better for having failed and you were glad to be there when it happened.
Who were you when life swerved hard one way or the other?