It happens all the time in sports. One team is playing well, coasting along, and everything they do seems to be working. Then, in the blink of an eye, the momentum changes. Everything that was once effortless becomes strained and unnatural. The harder that team works to recover, the more unnatural that team’s efforts become. Panic begins to set in, and before you know it, the game is lost.
I’ve coached a lot of basketball games, and I’ve seen this scenario unfold far too often. The situation isn’t due to bad luck, or bad decision-making. Games in sports are often decided by momentum, and it’s not uncommon for teams that are trailing to use their desperation to dig deeper: The players get a burst of adrenaline and they shift into another gear. Before you know it, the teams that are leading will go into a panic, and they collapse.
When I was coaching, I would call a timeout when I saw that my team’s lead was beginning to evaporate. For over 30 years, I always began my talk the same way. As the players would gather around me with fear in their eyes, I’d look at the scoreboard, smile, and take note of how many points we were still leading by. Maybe our lead had shrunk from 15 to 5. Maybe it had shrunk from 20 to 2. Whatever that number was, I’d start the conversation with what we were still leading by. For instance, if the team was only ahead by a mere two points, I’d say this:
“I’d rather be up by two than be down by two.”
I’m not expecting you to fall out of your chair based on the brilliance of that sentence, but I can tell you this: I saw firsthand what that phrase did to the psyche of the players I coached. Putting the team’s situation in perspective helped them regroup, and refocus. This approach wasn’t just effective for teams that were losing their leads. It also helped with the teams that were trailing: After all, “I’d rather be trailing by six then trailing by twelve.”
You don’t need to be playing for a team to apply this message to your situation. Life throws curveballs at every one of us, and life has momentum shifts as well. Perhaps these scenarios will resonate:
- Your business has been suffering through some setbacks and your prospect list has dwindled to a handful of clients.
- Your cash flow has slowed, and dwindled to 50% of what is was recently.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to take each of those situations and remind yourself of the bigger picture?
- Your business has been suffering through some setbacks and your prospect list has dwindled to a handful of clients. I’d rather have a handful of clients to call on and build from than no clients at all.
- Your cash flow has slowed, and dwindled to 50% of what is was recently. I’d rather have 50% of that cash flow than 25%.
This phrase doesn’t remove the pain of challenging situations, but it sure helps put it in perspective. Momentum can be a fickle friend and no one is impervious to seeing momentum shifts from time to time. It’s been proven over and over: Successful people tend to look at the bright side of the challenging situations they are battling. The next time momentum leaves your side, try to keep things in perspective and make yourself look for a positive way to view your situation. After all, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s better to be “up by two than down by two!”