March Madness is here, the grueling six-game playoffs of college basketball. Many factors lead to success, including talent, matchups, and hard work, but in the end, the team that gets on a hot streak will be crowned National Champions.
Experts have argued for years over whether hot streaks really exist, but the latest research suggests that they do—nobody can give a peak performance 100% of the time, but sometimes everything just lines up right and you’re at your best for as long as the streak lasts.
How does a team—or a business–get on a hot streak? Do you just hit the hot streak button? Of course not. Hot streaks don’t happen just because you want them to. There’s something mysterious about them. But you can certainly give yourself the best chance by taking the right steps:
1. Keep shooting
There is always an element of chance in success. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, and the law of averages says that even if you start out with a couple of failures, eventually you will make that shot. So keep making those calls. Eventually you will get a yes. That is the only way to start a hot streak, with one made basket, one signed deal. Now you can go for a second win and then a third.
2. Keep practicing
There is something magical about hot streaks, but the magic won’t happen if you don’t do your best the old fashioned way, too. For a sports team that means showing up and working hard at practice. In business it means getting educated and then keeping up with developments in your field. Read, network, brainstorm, do what you can to be as good as you can so that when the magic comes you’re ready for it.
3. Keep helping others
If your teammate falls, help them up. If your teammate needs to get rid of the ball, get open. Help each other out. That is the only way to make sure your whole team has a hot streak together—and together is the only way you can win. There is no such thing as a single champion in basketball or in business. You win or lose as a company. Anyway, knowing you have each other’s back is good for morale, good for confidence.
4. Keep positive
A positive attitude does not guarantee success, but last I checked, a negative attitude pretty much guaranteed failure. Top athletes can actually get in valuable practice time off the court simply by visualizing playing well. They can practice in their minds and so can you. Imagine your next meeting going well. Visualize your next presentation. Get that feeling. Know that you’re going to succeed.
5. Keep in shape
Obviously athletes need to keep in shape, but so do the rest of us. You need to keep your mind and body fresh. Try an Insanity or P90x workout. Or perhaps you want to run on a treadmill or through your neighborhood, or even play in a pickup basketball game. Whatever it is, make sure you’re physically as well as mentally ready for whatever comes your way.
6. Keep honest
You cannot cheat your way into a hot streak. You have to earn your way. In fact, two teams lost their places in the NCAA Tournament this year by not following the rules–SMU & Louisville. There are no shortcuts to success and certainly no shortcuts to a hot streak.
You will know when the hot streak hits. Take advantage of it, don’t over-think it, and keep showing up. The hot streak will end, that’s why it’s called a streak, but you can start a new one later. The most successful college basketball programs, like UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, and Duke have done it over and over. They have their bad moments, but they know how to get on a hot streak at the right time.
Who will get on a hot streak during March Madness this year?