Staying positive and focused is easy when playing well and things are working. The true test does not come during these times, but rather when adversity strikes and the game challenges you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Adversity is an opportunity to grow, to think differently, to stretch yourself beyond the limits you have set. By re-framing these periods of time when luck seems to be on the other side of the net, players are able to stay engaged in the moment and keep their attention focused on something they can control. So next time you are faced with a bad call, or a string of mistakes, or a lengthy rain delay when leading, talk to yourself about the opportunity in front of you.
Champions remember the moments in their careers that were the most challenging, and through these challenges they find career-defining motivation. A great example is Kobe Bryant, who explained how losing the NBA finals to the Boston Celtics set him on a new path: “Losing in ’08 changed how I approached the game, changed how I approached leadership, helped bring out the best version of myself.” The Lakers would go on to win titles in 2009 and 2010. When asked which title was the most gratifying, Bryant highlighted the 2010 series, also against Boston, that went the distance and was full of physical and mental challenges: “Going up against three sure Hall of Famers, being down in the series 3-2, having lost to them in 2008. Understanding the history of the rivalry and all that goes on there. Having a broken finger and playing with a cast. All those things make that championship more special than the rest.”
Adversity is an opportunity. How will you redefine the adversity in your life?