Ahhh, it’s that time of year every college basketball fan loves…March Madness. I must confess, I enjoy watching the tournament and filling out my bracket only to see it destroyed by the end of the first weekend. Which brings me to my topic today.
Most people when they are completing their brackets use a logical approach to their selections. They take into consideration a team’s seeding, their record, the conference they play in and their opponent. For those of you who have participated in this activity over the years, you have learned that what appears to be a given, is not always the case! Without question, almost every year on the first weekend of tournament play, there is an upset. Some are not so unexpected and some are shockers. Why? Good question! Regardless of whether you are a number one seed or a Cinderella, there is an explanation and a lesson in this for all of us…Here we go!
In 2013, a small school on the gulf coast of Florida seeded number 15, upset number 2 seed Georgetown 78-68. At one point Florida Gulf Coast led by 19 points. Should Florida Gulf Coast ever had a lead like that yet alone win the game? How?
In 1976, The Indiana Hoosiers began the year ranked number one and finished with an undefeated mark of 32-0, the last undefeated team in college basketball. During the NCAA tournament they cruised their way to a national championship winning every game by an average of 17 points per game. Were the other teams that less talented? Again, the question, How?
In the first case with Florida Gulf Coast, I believe they had a point to make and a will to make it. Think about it, except for a very few, the only people that believed they could win were inside the Florida Gulf Coast locker room. They had to believe they could win…If they didn’t,they should have never left the locker room.
First lesson…always believe you can win. Regardless of how things might be stacked up against you, you must believe BEFORE you begin, that you will WIN! I have seen many examples of a “defeated” approach to business and to life that clearly demonstrates that person has already lost. You see it in their attitude and even in the way they walk! You have no chance of winning anything unless first you expect to win and you put forth your BEST effort to do so PERIOD!!!
In the second example, the 1976 Indiana team knew full well that when they played any team on any given night, that team would put forth their best effort. Why? To be the team that knocked off the best of the best. Imagine the pressure to always perform at peak performance to maintain their status of being number one. Think of how the team viewed an undefeated season and wanted to protect it with all they had. Think how it felt going into the tournament knowing that just one loss, would not only ruin the undefeated season but would end it as well!
As the record shows, this team was well equipped to handle the situation from the top down. The result: An undefeated championship season.
Second lesson…Never take your competitor lightly and keep your foot on the gas! Perhaps the Bible says it best, “Pride cometh before a fall.” Never take your competitor lightly. If you are at the top of your game, they would like nothing better than to find your weakness and expose it so they can defeat you! In sports or in life, never take your opponents, or your opportunities lightly…to stay on top you must earn it EVERY DAY. Never take your foot off the gas is a metaphor I have heard for years. It simply means, don’t slow down, don’t ease up, give it all you’ve got until the results are decided. This is clearly the banner championship teams and organizations display consistently season after season, year after year!
These are powerful lessons for each of us. I hope you like me, are never at a place where you stop looking for ways to learn! If you are a fan of March Madness, pay attention to the way each team approaches their game and how they play it. Does their body language from the bench to the court demonstrate they can win regardless of who they are playing, or are they defeated before they walk out of the locker room? Is the higher seed playing as if their opponent will just fold up and quit?
These lessons are a great reminder to each of us that we can determine our outcomes simply by the approach we take to our livelihood and our lives every day. If you are at the top of your game, take nothing for granted, do all you can to stay there. If you are a Cinderella, set your expectations high and believe in every opportunity that you are going to WIN!
Here’s to winning your championship game every day!
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