Whether you’re a diehard Raptors fan or a hop-on-the-Jurassic-Park-bandwagon-for-the-playoffs fan like I am, this team’s example of resilience mastery – and fouls – is insightful for us on the sidelines.
As we wait on the edge of our seats for tomorrow night’s game, I thought it’d be fun to unpack some lessons of resilience from the court that we can apply to our own work; even if we don’t have millions of fans critiquing our every move.
Plans pivot. You still have a job to do, even if you don’t like it.
We can’t talk about the Raptors without talking about Kawhi Leonard who is quite a meme-deserving fella based on recent social media feeds. It’s well noted that getting traded to the Raptors was not his first choice. He wanted to play in his home town.
Even so, this guy is ALL IN. He has a job to do and he’s delivering. Whatever his personal alliances and desires were to play for another team, his performance indicates that he’s dancing with the one that brought him.
How many times have you or someone you know been passed over for a promotion or transferred to another department when you didn’t want to be? Mastering everyday resilience means you don’t get to pine over the lost opportunity. Wishing for and working towards something else is healthy, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact your performance at the job you have.
You don’t have to emotionally react to bad calls.
Since the dawn of basketball (or any sport really) there have been bad calls made by referees. This is unfortunate and yet, it’s an anticipated obstacle within a game. Yes, bad calls suck, however, emotionally reacting to them and getting angry with the ref sucks even more. It accomplishes nothing except throwing a player off for the rest of the game, upsetting his teammates and possibly getting benched.
Complaining about a reality you have no control over is wasting emotional capacity. Unnecessary stress is manufactured when we add misplaced emotions and negative stories to obstacles. That energy is better spent focusing on the next play.
At work, we’re routinely faced with negative results outside of our control. In my world, it means another speaker gets chosen for the conference. For others, it could be dealing with an angry customer or a slacking co-worker. There are endless obstacles that are out of your control. Complaining and reacting negatively to everything that goes wrong is a recipe for a stressful day that’s within your control to stop.
Don’t take a missed basket into your next shot.
My favorite part of a basketball game occurs when a player is at the free-throw line. It’s not the first shot that piques my interest; it’s the second. Eliminating the emotional connection to the result of the last throw is a sign of true resilience mastery.
At work, how do you reset to a state of optimal performance after a fumble? Even though failing is required to achieve success, it can play games with your self-confidence. In a game situation these professionals are forced to process their missed shot in a matter of seconds and move forward. In a regular working environment, we have the luxury of taking a little longer to process the failure before we step back onto the court.
Extra stressful days happen when one obstacle dominoes into the next and then it compounds with another. “The day started with a traffic jam, then my computer didn’t work, then someone called in sick, then the boss called me into the office.” In truth, none of these obstacles have anything to do with the last. However, when the frustration from the first one is not dealt with using everyday resilience techniques, then the next issues are magnified and borrow extra annoyance from the last.
Back stories don’t determine your outcome.
There are many stories swirling around the internet highlighting the hardships many of the Raptors’ team members have faced, from murdered parents to growing up in poverty. I believe a celebrity’s personal story is just that – personal. As someone who analyzes best practices in resilience, I believe that even if a fraction of the stories are true, then these are truly resilient athletes.
It goes to prove that your back story doesn’t have to determine your future. You can use negative life experiences to fuel your determination to succeed. Everyone has times in their lives that can make or break them. There are many victims of circumstances who choose to hang their identity on bad circumstances from their past rather than choose a new path for their life.
Physical, emotional and mental discipline make the difference when you’re under pressure.
To operate at the level that the Raptors are playing, with an entire country cheering for them, is pressure we can’t fully appreciate. When it’s time to perform, training sets champions apart. The thousands of hours and years of shooting hoops when the crowd wasn’t watching is why these players have become household names.
The best wins in basketball – and in business – happen because of the efforts behind the scenes, away from the applause. It’s the physical conditioning, the belief in yourself and the mental discipline that calms the adrenaline rush enough to make the shot under pressure. Letting your Internal Messenger of B.S. tell you stories, plant seeds of self-doubt or add worry to obstacles out of your control will kill your game. It takes conditioning and mental discipline to stay 100 per cent focused on the task at hand. When you do, you win.
As the team is prepping for their big night, all of these resilience muscles will be in full effect. For the We the North folks on the sidelines, we have the chance to use their example as inspiration for mastering resilience in our own work.
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Learn more in my book Married My Mom, Birthed a Dog: How to Be Resilient When Life Sucks