We Need to Make Some In-Game Adjustments

When we suffer defeat, when we’re demoted, when we lose the job, how do we then view ourselves?

What is your identity tied to?

It’s not an easy question. But for many of us, the answer is likely performance.

Victories, salaries, titles, sales, promotions — all the external accolades that we allow to determine our self-worth.

But when we suffer defeat, when we’re demoted, when we lose the job, how do we then view ourselves?

In his second masterful piece in the Players’ Tribune on anxiety and mental illness, Cleveland Cavaliers Forward Kevin Love warned last week of the dangers of rooting our value solely in achievement.

“My entire identity was tied to one thing in a really unhealthy way. Way before I was in the NBA or even in college, my self-worth was all about performing. I was what I did,” he wrote.

“When I wasn’t performing, I didn’t feel like I was succeeding as a person.”

Love’s panic attack before a 2018 game has been well-documented, but there are many lessons he’s taken from that period that we’d be wise to apply to our own lives immediately, regardless of whether we’re currently hoisting a championship trophy or have suffered a few consecutive defeats.  

  1. We need to treat our mental well-being as an investment portfolio that isn’t overly reliant on a single stock. We need to better balance our passion for our profession with some outside interests, some people we care about and set some life goals that aren’t necessarily related to our work. We need a little more diversity to our identities.

  2. We need to think back on some of our successes. There’s a great paradox in many of our lives as leaders. A lot of our achievements and our ability to rise in our fields can be attributed to hard work and humility. But sometimes that humility doesn’t allow us to recognize our many accomplishments along the way. Let’s be better about appreciating what it is that we uniquely offer.  

  3. We need to consider our identity in slightly broader terms. We’re not simply coaches, executives and managers. We’re leaders — and there are a host of qualities that go along with that. We’re charismatic, we’re empathetic, we’re motivators and we’re practical under pressure. Let’s never forget that we don’t need an official title to embody these qualities in our daily lives.

  4. Let’s find someone we can be truly open with. Love writes that speaking regularly to a psychiatrist has been the biggest difference-maker for him. Whether it’s a professional, a loved one or just a trusted confidant, let’s have a person in our lives with whom we can be fully transparent without fear of judgment.

There is no perfect game plan for untying our self-worth away from achievement. But we can’t wait until the final buzzer sounds to realize we needed to change. Let’s start making some in-game adjustments right now, regardless of what the scoreboard says.


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The 7 Mental Keys to the NBA Finals

They need a new set of priorities, a renewed focus and more attention to the tiniest of details as they embark on the ultimate goal. 

Congratulations to both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat, who will compete in Game 1 of the NBA Finals tomorrow. Both teams have overcome many obstacles in their seasons, dealing with unplanned changes and unfamiliar surroundings. They overcame horrible defeats, made adjustments and kept their focus on their main goal. 

Now comes the hard part: how to finish the job. After all, what good is getting to the Finals if you don’t win the whole thing? Whatever their concentration levels were before this week, they will need to dial it up another notch. What got them here won’t be good enough — everything needs to improve. They need a new set of priorities, a renewed focus and more attention to the tiniest of details as they embark on the ultimate goal. 

A championship game plan should include:

1. KEEP YOUR CONCENTRATION IN THE “NOW”

When athletes allow their focus of concentration to jump ahead to the future or drift back to the past, the result is always increasing nervousness.

2. RECOGNIZE WHEN YOUR FOCUS “TIME TRAVELS” AND BRING YOURSELF BACK

It’s very easy to understand that you need to focus in the now, but much harder to consistently do it! The way that you stay in the now is by immediately becoming aware whenever your focus drifts back to the past or ahead to the future, then quickly return your concentration to the now.

3. KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON YOU, YOUR JOB AND YOUR PLAY

Allowing your focus to drift to anyone or anything other than you, (i.e., your opponents, who’s watching, who might be disappointed in you, how well your teammates may be playing, what the coach is thinking, etc.) will quickly make you feel nervous.

4.  HAVE FUN

Performing your best under pressure means that you have to be having fun. Fun is the secret ingredient to staying calm and doing your best when the heat of competition is turned up high.

5.  LEAVE YOUR GOALS AT HOME

One of the biggest tension-inducing mental mistakes that you can make as an athlete is to take your goals with you into the competition. For example, you think, “I want to go 3 for 4,” “pitch a shut-out,” “win this tournament,” “score a goal,” “break two minutes,” or “prove to the coaches that I’m good.”

6.  KEEP YOUR MIND DISTRACTED BEFORE AND AFTER GAMES

Thinking gets most athletes into trouble and makes them nervous. While you can’t stop yourself from thinking, you can purposely distract yourself from it. So, in the days and minutes leading up to a big performance or tournament, keep busy.

7.  KEEP YOUR FOCUS OF CONCENTRATION AWAY FROM THE “UNCONTROLLABLES”

Many things happen in your sport that you do not have direct control over. If an athlete focuses on an “uncontrollable” (UC), he/she will get nervous, lose confidence and simply play badly.

Best of luck to both teams. 


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Airbnb's Lessons in Overcoming Setbacks

When we hit the first stumbling block, we often fold and give up because we fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The above email started because two guys, Brian and Joe, could not pay their rent.  2007.

The email hatches an idea to rent three air mattresses on the floor and serve people breakfast and a place to sleep. 

So, Brian and Joe build a website featuring a blog, allowing people to find their location with maps and alert them of their availability. People find their services by logging onto www.airbedandbreakfast.com

The first time they make their place available, three people show up, two men, one woman, each paying $80 for a one night stay. 

Once their guests left, Brian and Joe thought, “We might have something here.” 

So, they invited their former roommate, Nathan, to join their idea. 2008

They launched their idea at SXSW in Austin and received two bookings. Progress. 

The trio got a lifeline from Paul Graham, who invested $20K to officially launch the company.  

They were making just $20 a week, with no growth or progress. Is anyone ready to quit yet?

Brian, Joe and Nathan realized the photos sent in by potential renters were not appealing. This needed to be fixed.

They went door to door in New York City and took photos themselves. It was a shrewd move that made a big difference.

All three are now making $400/week. Some progress. 2009. 

They met with a venture capitalist to secure more funding and were told absolutely not— bad idea.    

Famous singer Barry Manilow’s drummer rents an entire house. A major milestone.. 

Raised $600K in a seeding round from Sequoia. Big-time progress.

They raised an additional $18.4M from investors, including Ashton Kutcher. 2010. 

In 2014, Airbnb became valued at $10B. 

We all have ideas of how we can develop our teams, our groups, our business. But when we hit the first stumbling block, when we hit the first stumbling block, we often fold and give up because we fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We believed this would happen overnight so we lose faith and become impatient. And even though we’re told nothing happens overnight, we still expect the overnight sensation. 

If anyone has been charged to turn a team an organization around, don’t expect an overnight sensation. Don’t expect anything to come easy. Expect only to work hard. 

Just know if you have the right idea and work toward fulfilling it without concerning yourself about profits along the way, you have a chance for major success — as long as you don’t quit at the first sign of trouble.  


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Sunday Thinking

New ideas flow through me! Insights unfold within me.

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The weekly Sunday Thinking newsletter is quick-hit content that aims to provide a booster shot to your thought process as you end and start your week.


“For me, it’s a question of the way we pursue our creative dreams. There is something in our culture that says your dream or the thing you’re pursuing has to happen immediately and all at once, and that is destructive to the creative spirit.”

― Ava DuVernay


I. Relationship Basics

  • Connect

  • Communicate

  • Build Trust

Make every day a search for discovery. Search for new ways to connect, to learn, teach, inspire, discover, share, and to be.


II. Rules for Success

  1. Be quick, but don’t hurry.

  2. Fear no opponent. Respect every opponent.

  3. Be more interested in character than reputation.

  4. Know that valid self-analysis is crucial for improvement.

  5. Remember that there is no substitute for hard work and careful planning. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Source: John Wooden, from his book (with Steve Jamison) Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court


III. Committing to Daily Learning

  • Be on a self-improvement mission.

  • Take time to reflect on what’s happening around you.

  • A personal refusal to let what you know, get in the way of what you don’t know.

  • Accepting to create a new learning mindset that will require higher levels of personal discipline and responsibility.


IV. Question

What kind of person do I want to be today?


V. This Week I Will

  1. Tidy up.

  2. Overcome.

  3. Review my days.

  4. Be present with others.

  5. Do one thing that I love.


The Last Words…

“Regret is a burden we all hold, for whatever reason, and holding on does nothing but weigh us down. Learn from the mistakes of your past, thank them for occurring, then gently push them into the wind, and wave as they flutter away.” 

― Humble The Poet, Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths For A Better Life


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Truth Telling

To lie is to betray the truth.

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Truth Telling is a newsletter that commits to uncovering the bare truths of life for all to see. It is our attempt to live inside the mental landscapes of the world’s elite thinkers.


“I cannot tell the truth about anything unless I confess being a student, growing and learning something new every day. The more I learn, the clearer my view of the world becomes.” 

― Sonia Sanchez


“You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery. The phrase that I use the most to myself in my head is one word: accept.”

― Naval Ravikant


“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

― Corrie ten Boom


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