Up 3-1 in the NBA Finals, it seemed like just a matter of time until the Golden State Warriors were crowned back-to-back NBA Champions. Little did they know, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the right mindset to bring about a different outcome.
Now mindset wasn’t the only reason the Cavs won. They had LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and others. But talent alone isn’t enough if a team doesn’t believe they’re going to win. Let’s look at how the right mindset can lead to success on and off the court.
1. Take It One Game at a Time
It’s kind of a cliché in pro sports, but it is true; you have to keep your head in the game (or the meeting, or the deal) you’re actually in. The Cavs knew they could still win the series when they were down 3-1, but they could certainly lose it too. Each game is an opportunity to lose, if the team lets their attention wander into the future or the past. The Cavs focused on the one game they were playing and won. Then they won again and again, one game at a time.
Don’t focus on cases that haven’t happened yet, and don’t worry about the past. Yes, prospect and market yourself–to set yourself up for future success. But take care of the deal in front of you. Give the clients you are with your full attention.
2. Use Momentum and Pressure to Your Own Advantage
The Cavs faced an incredible amount of pressure. They’d lost to the same team the year before and didn’t want to lose again. LeBron James didn’t want to lose to Steph Curry. Pressure can be a real distraction. But the longer Cleveland kept the series going, the more games they won, the more the pressure would start to swing around. After all, no one had ever blown a 3-1 series lead in the NBA finals—talk about pressure! Before long, it was the Warriors who had to fight distraction.
Say your competition is bigger and better established than you. Maybe their winning feels inevitable, but the fact is they’re counting on you to bail out. So refuse to bail—keep going, keep showing up. If you can hang in there, your competition won’t understand how you’re doing it. They’ll start to worry about you. And that’s when you can turn the pressure on them.
3. Use the Law of Averages to Your Advantage
A good team can lose a couple of times in a row and a bad team can win a couple of times in a row—that’s just the way chance works. Luck has a big impact on small numbers. Watch more games and, over time, the team’s record will start to reflect what they’re really worth.
The Cavs hit a lull early in the finals, but they’d been a good team all year. They knew that, according to the law of averages, the more games they played, the longer the series went, the more likely they were to get a final record that reflected their real abilities.
If you’re good at what you do, you might still lose some deals through simple bad luck. But keep going. The more people you see, the more times you try, the better chance you have of the numbers reflecting your real value.
4. Know You Can Succeed
The Cavs had been up 2-1 in the NBA Finals the year prior, but then injuries caught up to them. It happens. But they knew from experience they were capable of playing and beating the Warriors and they knew they could do it again. And they were right.
Self-confidence is huge. If you think you’re going to fail, then you probably will. But even if you’re new in your field, you probably have some kind of relevant success in your past. Rely on those good moments now to help you win.
5. Remember How Far You’ve Come
Cleveland had seen tough times before. They lost in the finals last year. They’d had to play on the road in a tough environment. They had seen tough times and they’d bounced back, so when the first couple of games in the series went badly, they knew they could bounce back again. And they did.
Maybe you’re having a hard time now. It seems like nothing’s working for you, nothing’s going your way. But you have been here before. You have had bad months, bad weeks. You have been told no. You have failed. Use those experiences to remind yourself that you came back before and you will do that again. Right now.
Mindset Isn’t Everything, But It Is the Critical Thing
The Cleveland Cavaliers were counted out. You have been counted out. But don’t give up—stay positive, stay focused, and use the right mindset to find a way to win.
3 Key Points:
1) When things aren’t going your way, take a deep breathe and do good work today.
2) Give yourself more opportunities for success (more on this in a future post…)
3) Think back to previous challenges you overcame and realize you will overcome this challenge too.
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