In many ways January is the height of the losing season. College football games, the NFL Playoffs, and personal reminders about 2013.
After all, that’s where New Year’s Resolutions came from. Failures or losses from the previous year are acknowledged and drive us into a new year.
Losses. Sometimes that’s where our focus is. Losses happen. If everyone won all the time there would be no inspiration to change.
Many losses sting for a long time. Whether it’s a championship game or a marital breakup or the loss of a job.
You can’t just shake it off in five minutes or five days or even five months.
Let’s admit it hurts. But let’s not quit playing.
5 Ways to Comeback After a Loss
1. Expect some horrible days. That’s normal.
2. Don’t take it personally. Yes, you experienced a loss, but that does not mean you are a loser. Auburn lost the National Championship game. Trust me. They are not a bunch of losers. Neither are you unless you pack it in and quit.
3. You may have to forgive someone. He missed a tackle, your spouse forgot it was your anniversary, or someone forgot to pick you up from the mechanics. Forgive and move forward.
4. Lose the guilt. We spend too much time focusing on what we did to contribute to the loss. The truth is you alone were likely not responsible for the loss.
5. Get back in the game. Never forget that others are watching. Your kids, your coworkers, and your teammates. Write down on a piece of paper what you think a winner would do after a devastating defeat. Then go do that. You know what to do.
Fascinating. You already know what to do. You already know the answer to the question, How do you come back after a loss?
Carol and I recently were out of town for a meeting so we decided to grab a bite to eat. Following dinner Carol suggested we look for some dessert. Not wanting to disappoint, I pulled up a bakery on the Yelp app.
Three-tenths of a mile away. Perfect. I got the brownie and she got a cream filled puff of some sort.
Since we had just eaten dinner we decided to wait and eat our dessert when we got home. After arriving home rather than eat the whole brownie I opted to eat half and save the other half for the next day.
Actually I wanted the whole thing, but felt like that was overeating.
That’s not the only time I struggle with overdoing. I try to read too many books, watch too many football games, and take on too many projects.
To be honest I have never eaten too many carrots or apples. Desserts, low quality food, is what I struggle with. I do try to read only very good books. I clearly don’t have time to read books of little value.
The same applies to football. As the season kicks off I have to be selective. There is no way I can consume seven or eight football games in just one week. Actually three to four are about all I can watch. That is healthy number for me. Often while watching I like to read a book between plays and during commercials.
Football is like food. I can’t just indiscriminately consume it just because it is available. Diet affects us. Whether it’s food, football, or just plain fun excess is not healthy.
So let me ask you. How’s your diet?
However, what intrigued me is how many fans left Game 6 early. Thousands left early and the end was one for the ages. Some said it ranks in the top two of all NBA playoff games.
The game was played in Miami although the San Antonio Spurs had a 3-2 lead in the series. That made the game a must win for Miami.
Late in the fourth quarter Miami was down and the trophy was being wheeled into position for the supposed Spurs victory.
But I must say that while I was sitting at home watching the game I never came close to turning the TV off. These type of games are just too exciting.
Now all of this made me think. As a fan you live for these games. So why did people bail on their vision on seeing a great game, which you had to see the end to experience the ultimate thrill?
Here are my quick takes. And by the way this applies to marriage, careers, and dreams in general.
Stress – The fans simply could not handle the stress. No vision will be realized without tons of stress.
Shallow – Shallow fans followed weak people out the door. Happens all the time. I have watched workers leave and go to another company only to want to come back weeks later. Things did not work out. It rarely does for weak people.
Soft – They wanted it to be easier. They would have preferred a blowout. I’m sure they blamed the refs for bad calls. It is always someone else’s fault.
Show – They came for the show. Actually the show came at the very end, but by that time they were outside the arena. (In Miami fans typically show up late for games which led Lebron James to do some pre-game dunk maneuvers to entice people to come early. Give them a show. No show, the fans don’t come or stay). The truth is life is often fairly mundane. But you have to stay in the game to have the chance to experience the show.
Scent – It did not smell like a win with two minutes to go. People buy Gain detergent simply because their clothes smell cleaner. They may not actually be cleaner, but they smell cleaner.
Selfishness – The focus was on themselves. At least the fans could get a jump on the traffic. But why not stay until the end? Because it was all about them.
Of course the fans could not get back in the game, but it was not their fault. It never is. They are the ones who bailed. Now that the show had finally arrived they pounded on the glass doors to get back inside. It was too late. They bailed on the vision for no good reason, and as a result they missed the very thing they came looking for in Game 6.
You may be on the verge of bailing on a dream, a marriage, a career, or a life long vision. Are you expecting it to come quick and easy?
Are you hanging around the right people?
Are you being realistic?
Remember, few look in the mirror and admit that they are the ones who bailed on the vision.
Over the years from playing sports to construction to church I have been able to work alongside people who had talent. One of the sad realities is that great talent does not always come with humility. It’s hard many times for those with great talent to defer to another teammate.
I have been a Los Angeles Laker fan since I was a kid. Magic Johnson was a great talent, but he was even a better teammate. He made everyone around him much better. Kobe Bryant on the other hand, while a great talent, is less of a great teammate.
Great Teammates do at least four things well:
1. Get excited when others excel.
2. Defer to others.
3. Get along with others.
4. Possess great attitudes.
Magic Johnson did all four and more very well. Someday your name will come up in a conversation. How will you be remembered? More for your talent, or more for being a great teammate?
Let me illustrate from football, especially since the Super Bowl is on everyone’s mind. In a recent post I referred to the 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. He has gone from backup to a sensational starter.
In midseason Coach Harbaugh made a change. He benched the starting quarterback and put in Kaepernick.
And it was not because Alex Smith was doing a poor job. Of course, all kinds of discussions abounded on all the sports networks. Was it the right move or not?
Like any coach, Harbaugh is relentless about upgrading the team, even when the team is winning.
So why the switch? Winning the division is one thing, winning the conference championship is another, but the Super Bowl is the ultimate win.
Here is the reason Harbaugh made the change. He knew that nothing matters more than getting the right player on the field and in the right position.
Jack Welch in his book Winning says he looked for three things in people he wanted to hire.
1. Integrity – truthful, dependable, authentic, and able to admit mistakes. Kaepernick does well here.
2. Intelligence – for Kaepernick he must be able to read defenses, understand complex looks on the defense, be able to audible and call the right play, and keep on learning.
3. Maturity – think about it. He is on national TV, you will get behind at times in a game, there will be lots of stress, mistakes will be made, interceptions will be thrown, etc.
Soon after the change had been made the 49ers started the game with the ball, but Kaepernick threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. So right off the bat he throws a pick and the other team takes the lead. How did he respond? With integrity, he admitted his mistake. With intelligence, he didn’t throw a pick after that one. Maturity, he kept his head in the game and led the team on to a victory.
While this in no way indicates that the 49ers are a one man team, but it does illustrate the necessity of getting the right players onto the field if winning is the objective.
As the San Francisco 49ers head for the Super Bowl, one story caught my attention. It was about the quarterback and his tattoo artist. It’s a great story, but at the same time illustrates why pride should simply not exist. The story begins in the Philippines with a broken home. Through a series of events the mom moves to the US, gets married, and eventually brings her son to Nevada to live. Reno, to be exact.
One day the quarterback of the University of Nevada football team walks in to get some ink for his skin. They hit it off and the tattoos kept coming until Kaepernick had his arms covered along with his chest and back.
But tattoos are everywhere. No big deal right? Yes, until K becomes the starting quarterback for the 49ers midseason. Now he is on TV every weekend. The tattoos begin to get noticed. The team keeps winning, makes the playoffs, wins the NFC title, and is now in the Super Bowl.
Guess who else is getting tons of attention and business? You guessed it. His tattoo artist. Currently he is booked three months in advance and now requires deposits.
As a result of his success should the tattoo artist be lifted up with pride? Think about it. He had nothing to do with his family life in the Philippines. He had no control over his mother getting married and bringing him to the states. And certainly nothing to do with living in Reno. To top it off he had no control over a star quarterback walking into his small shop one day.
Kaepernick seems to be handling the instant notoriety very well. He is careful to thank God on a regular basis. In fact, his tattoo artist has noticed how grounded and humble the quarterback is. It’s always refreshing to see someone hit it big and realize how little control he actually had over all the circumstances. Kaepernick was adopted. He excelled at three sports. What if he had gone into baseball?
Just one different turn and no one hears about Kaepernick or the tattoo artist.
So much of life is like that. We didn’t choose our parents, what country to be born in, and what occupation our parents chose.
That leaves me with at least two quick thoughts on why pride should be more scarce, and humility more prominent.
First of all, who wants to hang out with a prideful person? Exactly. No one. So why are some people so prideful?
Secondly, people are not responsible for what they are prideful about.
Think of all the things people point to about themselves. Now add up how many they are in control of.
Your number is probably close to 0. That’s humbling in and of itself, which underscores why there is no room for pride!
The NFL has had a labor dispute with the refs since before the season began. And yes, there were some horrible calls by the replacement refs. However, the NFL maintained that the integrity of the game was not being compromised, and the bad calls were not changing the outcome of the games.
Then it happened! Monday night as Savannah and I were watching the Green Bay Packers take on the Seattle Seahawks the unthinkable transpired right before our eyes on the last play of the game.
At that point Green Bay was leading by a score of 12-7. Seattle’s only hope with just seconds remaining was a hail mary to the end zone. Not only did a Seahawk receiver push a Green Bay player to the ground, he never caught the ball. Another defensive player for Green Bay did. No problem. The Seattle receiver simply put his hands on the ball and the ref called it a touchdown.
Now without going into all the rules, everyone in America knew it was an interception and not a touchdown. So Seattle escapes with a win, and Green Bay is delirious as they fly home with a loss in a game they actually won.
It finally happened. On Monday Night Football! A bad call by the replacement refs changed the outcome of a game. As upset as Savannah and I were (we were actually pulling for Seattle) at the call, I told her, “The good thing about that call is the NFL and the refs will make a deal this week.
And they have. But why did they wait until the last minute? Why did they wait until the unthinkable happened?
It got really bad. Isn’t that how life is? We wait, we procrastinate, we hope things will not deteriorate, we assume the bottom will not fall out,….but it does. Yet we wait.
So while we were all screaming at our TV sets, how many of us were screaming at ourselves? After all, some of us no doubt were right in the middle of waiting…just like the NFL. And guess what? Things will probably get worse before they get better, just like the replacement refs.
We wait until a bill is overdue that we get serious about our finances.
We keep an employee on the payroll who has a bad attitude, hoping he will change, and he doesn’t and the company is hurt.
We ignore the leak in the roof since it is only a small drip right now.
We leave the pitcher in the game for just one more out.
We even fail to change lanes for the upcoming exit until we are forced to cut someone off.
So after all the fallout in the NFL and even in our own lives we continue to be plagued by waiting.
After all the lessons from life, Why do we continue to wait until the last minute?
A new era has begun at Penn State. Coach Bill O’Brien has somewhat of a formidable task. Due to the unfortunate incidents over the last several months several of Penn States top players left for other colleges to continue their football careers. When Coach O’Brien arrived the situation was already bad. However, after his arrival things became even worse as players left. With that sad here are some of my thoughts.
You have walked into a mess. The current is against you. There are few favorable winds at your back. But you took the job knowing all that, and because you believe your previous experiences, your character, and your success coaching football have prepared you for this undertaking.
I would add at this point that unless you have ever been broken at some point in your life, this job will become even tougher. You have walked into a broken situation, you will be surrounded by broken people, and you must be able to walk in their shoes.
One of the great stories from the book of Genesis centers around the life of Joseph. Let me encourage you to read that story multiple times and learn from how he led during a great famine. And quite frankly, Penn State football may be entering a time of famine, and it may last for a few years.
Here are six lessons to begin with:
1. Not all leaders can lead during a famine. Egypt went through seven years of famine and Joseph led the way. Part of your job is going to be to lead Penn State through the current crisis.
2. Do not complain. Everyone knows the circumstances. Everyone knows there is a famine in the land. Be proactive and lead.
3. Don’t play the blame game. Yes, people previous to you made some poor decisions. We get all that. Remember, you took the job knowing all that, and you felt like you measured up to the challenge. Deal with it, and do not bring up the earlier administration.
4. Set the example. Avoid spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror or you will wind up in the ditch.
5. Identify some benchmarks or milestones to track your progress along this long journey. As you travel, you will gain hope as you reach these along the way.
6. Cast a compelling vision for a bright future. Stay positive, encourage those around you, and serve your coaching staff and players well.
Yes, the sun has gone down on the University of Penn State. But it will rise again. And you can be the coach who is at the helm when that happens.
One more thing.
Remember that the country is pulling for you. Yes, Penn State has that much influence. And many will be cheering for your success.