Once I watched the Boston Celtics lose a 7th and deciding game to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA on their home court in Boston. Fans were disappointed and the players seemed somewhat shocked. The Celtics have played in 36 game 7 playoff games and have won 27 championships—not bad! Not only did they lose a game 7 but so did the hockey Bruins, both in the same season. Newspapers called the performance of both teams embarrassing and pitiful.
The Celtics began the night stone-cold behind the arc and it snowballed from there. When their shooting is on they are practically unbeatable. They just were not on against a very good team.
People become very sensitive about winning and losing. Of course, everyone wants to be a winner, and losing is something you want to avoid and not talk about. The truth is everyone experiences the devastation of loss far more frequently than winning.
It’s important to talk about results you can and cannot control, and how to make meaningfulness from it all since it is a common thread to everyday living.
You cannot control the results: You can create a pool of great talent, shape the environment, influence those around you, control work ethic, control attitude, and approach, and chisel your own mindset toward winning. You just cannot control the outcome. At the end of the season for every team sport there is one winner and everyone else loses. Even the winner is not a winner for very long. When we win we celebrate and pontificate as if we might be a champion forever. But it fades quickly!
I don’t think the Miami Heat wanted to win more than the Boston Celtics wanted to win. When you try to control all the factors that go into a team result, plus overcome the factors that might be going really well for your opponent, it brings you to the precipice of results you cannot always control.
The Celtics won game 6 with a tip-in by a player that was in the right place at the right time with one-tenth of a second left on the clock. Had that not happened there would not have even been a game 7! You cannot choreograph that result. It was happenstance that 2 teams very much wanted to win but one guy makes a tip-in at the buzzer! It’s luck! Vegas thought the luck would continue by favoring the Celtics by 7.5 points at home. They lost by 19. It wasn’t meant to be. Many times it is not meant to be that you will be the champion.
Michael Jordan who is considered by himself and many others to be the greatest basketball player in the history of the NBA won 6 titles out of 15 seasons. As an owner for 13 seasons, he has only won 3 playoff games, period! Is it because he doesn’t want to win bad enough? I don’t want to be around when you tell him that. It would not be safe. It simply suggests you cannot control the results all the time.
However, there are things you can control. One thing is a deep belief in yourself. You can be a heart champion. Heart champions are a different breed and are spawned from a different ilk. There is so much more than the score at the end of the game. Self-definition comes from a deeper source. It’s about the preparation, the sacrifice, the sweat, and engagement of uncertainty. A heart champion’s life is determined within before the game is ever played and independent of the score at the end of the game. It has to do with connecting congruency with values of the heart.
A heart champion is more concerned about being true to one’s heart and not just winning or losing. Becoming true to your heart takes a willingness to go deeper and find meaningfulness in all of life’s endeavors, including failure. It’s not like heart champions condition themselves to lose. Rather, they are carved from a deeper place down deep inside. A heart champion knows that losing is a part of the ebb and flow of life. She determines to never let an outcome define who she is. Instead, definition is determined by the vision of destiny from within which supersedes any result. Her priority is knowing that she is connected to herself, embracing all of herself—the good, the bad, and the ugly. She understands that life is a tapestry weaving together the bitter and the sweet, success and failure, triumph and tragedy. Positive results are fine and desired, but fundamentally, a heart champion already has determined that they are “an unrepeatable miracle of the universe.”
Heart champions understand that no victory will add to this reality and no defeat will take away from it. It is already etched into the stone of destiny that exists in their heart. It is this deep self-belief that enables a heart champion to go deep with disappointment, bitter loss, and uncertainty. Still with great confidence, know that they will rise again!