I know this may sound very touchy-feely and like I'm advocating that we don't keep score and just let the kids play the game, have fun, and give everyone a trophy. That's how I felt about it at first too. But as I listened to Larry talk more about it, I began to see the wisdom of what he was saying.
If, when a kid wins or is successful, we praise him for his intelligence or strength or inherent ability, we're telling him that he succeeded because of those things. When he fails or loses, his mind is going to connect that loss with a lack of those characteristics and he'll be discouraged from trying again and risking further degrading those characteristics in himself.
If, instead, we praise his effort whether or not he's successful, we're connecting the reward of our approval with having worked hard. This will encourage him to keep working hard and getting better. This pursuit of hard work and self-improvement will naturally lead to success in whatever he's trying to accomplish.
I'm not suggesting that we should tell our sons that winning or losing isn't important. The desire to win and be the best is the reason that we compete. It feels good when you win and it sucks when you get beaten.
To be and stay a winner, however, you have to work hard. You have to keep trying and getting better. If we can cultivate that mindset in our sons, then we're setting them up for success.
Celebrate their success. Share their disappointment with failure. In either case, praise their effort and you'll be motivating them to get back after it.