What lessons can we learn from March Madness to improve our lives personally and professionally? First, for those unaware, March Madness is the term referring to the frenzy of excitement, enthusiasm and unpredictability that occurs this month in college basketball. Not a sports fan? Hold tight with me as this message will have tremendous value for you too.
Like many conferences holding pre-conference sessions these days, the men’s tournament in recent years has expanded the field to sixty eight teams (from sixty four). These additional four teams play on a Tuesday as a momentum builder and an opportunity to enter the main bracket. Official tip-off begins on a Thursday with games pretty continuous Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Each team is assigned a “seed” number; which is a ranking; from one to sixteen. There are sixteen teams assigned to each of four regional areas: South, East, West and Midwest. This creates the field of sixty four resulting in four number one seeds, four number two seeds, etc. The higher the seed assignment (represented by the lower number) in theory the better the team and again, theoretically, better chance to win.
Often the fourteen, fifteen and sixteen seeds are tremendously grateful to be included and sometimes relieved. The one through four seeds have tremendous pressure, as there are high expectations for them to perform and deliver. The five through thirteen seeds are sometimes annoyed at their placement, seen as potential “cinderellas”, the “ones to watch out for”, or a myriad of other discussion makers to create media hype and conversation in between games.
What could this possibly have to do with your daily life or business? Lesson number one, consider your life (or business) in a particular field, where would you be seeded? Personally this may be in terms of the person you’d like to be, the characteristics you strive to develop or person you admire and desire to emulate. Professionally may be in terms of your position in an organization or level of ability in a given profession. Businesses look at how well they deliver to their customers, how much revenue they generate (in general and weighed against the expenses), and monitor their competition in order to succeed. Keep in mind as opposed to any sort of put down, this is an assessment. How can you improve, in any capacity, without first assessing your starting point? The key is to evaluate and identify without judgment. What is your starting point in your tournament called life or business? Warning, simply wishing you were given a different seed is self-defeating and will hold you back from where you want to go! Also, remember the grass is always greener on the other side is an excuse that prevents us from doing what we can do and rarely, if ever, are we fully aware of what’s involved in another person or situation.
A little more basketball talk before the next lesson. The additional four teams this year: Iona, BYU (Brigham Young University), MS Valley (Mississippi) and Western Kentucky. In theory, these pairings are equal as opposed to the rest of the field which pairs the highest and lowest seeds together. The one seed plays the sixteen seed, the two seed plays the fifteen seed until all are paired. The middle of the pack ends up (again in theory) with the more evenly matched teams, as the eight seed plays the nine seed.
Lesson number two has a couple of points to reflect on as it invites us to look at our mindset and performance as the game (life or business) unfolds. The two “kick-off” games (the additional four teams) slated Iona against BYU and MS Valley against W Kentucky. Iona and MS Valley both had double digit leads for the majority of the forty minutes played only to surrender them by the final buzzer.
When everything “seems to be clicking”, you’re in the groove, there is flow, what are YOU thinking, saying or doing that is contributing to your results. Our thoughts, words, and actions (TWA) ALWAYS – ALWAYS – ALWAYS – produces our results. Our job is to align the combination of TWA that creates what we desire.
Since the human condition is that we are less than perfect, another job we have is to continually pay attention to our TWA, the results that follow and adjust accordingly. Some people find this responsibility annoying, including myself at times. How we ever established the belief that we ought to be able to align our TWA and outcomes with ease and without our commitment or effort is beyond me. How much more evidence do we need to generate before shattering our adherence to such ineffectiveness?
When you find yourself challenged, the underdog, or in situations where “the odds seem against you”, how do you respond? BYU and W Kentucky chose to dig deep, believe in themselves in spite of the score (and maybe others) and persist.
Of course, there are many more lessons that could be extracted from this event and plenty are continually added with variations reinforcing pertinent messages. That in itself is actually another valuable lesson. At any rate, this tournament is played every year and though some teams have won multiple times, it is rare to repeat consecutively. Nevertheless, those committed to the quest embark on the journey over and over again, fall, get back up – sometimes starting from the beginning or overcoming complete rejection, disappointment or embarrassment – and continue the pursuit.
Sounds like the path of success in life and business to me. Your thoughts?