Last year after suffering a shocking and humiliating defeat in the first game of the NCAA basketball tournament, last night the University of Virginia Cavaliers won their first NCAA basketball championship.
“It was a painful gift,” said Cavaliers’ coach Tony Bennett as he reflected on being the first #1 seeded team to lose to a #16 seeded team in the 2018 tournament.
Last year the Cavaliers were the favorites to win the title. But the unthinkable happened. The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) blew out the UVA by 20 points.
How do you recover and return from such an epic fall?
Bennett’s philosophy was summed up in a single sentence his wife shared with him from a Ted Talk that he’s been repeating to his players the whole year.
“If you learn to use it right, the adversity, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”
It’s called “a lesson in emotional intelligence.” It’s the ability to manage your emotions. To allow them to work for you instead of against you. Thus the “gift” of last year’s loss, became the “ticket” to this year’s victory.
It taught me a couple of things in losing that game,” Bennett said in a recent interview. “It sparked a fire in me that I want to compete at a higher level. I want this program to taste a level of success it never has.”
“But it also taught me something that I think is as important or more important,” he continues. “That, if we never do, I’m still okay. Because we were praised at the highest level last year [for our regular season accomplishments]…and it was enjoyable. And then, after losing, we were criticized at the highest level.”
“And neither of them really matter. I still love the game. We still have an opportunity to come back and play. And I think knowing that almost frees you up to go after it harder yet.”
As a result of this philosophy and their mental toughness, hard work, and old fashioned grit, Bennett and his team rewrote their legacy from losers to winners.
Bennett is known among his peers and players as a man of faith who once said, “When you have a relationship with the Lord, there’s a peace and perspective you have. The world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”
The son of retired coaching great, Dick Bennett, the Cavs coach has cited his faith and his father’s “Five Pillars” as impacting his coaching philosophy. Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. And Thankfulness.
Wow! What a metaphor for life. For not only enduring adversity but for allowing your faith to make you bigger, better and stronger.
We could all learn something from Tony Bennett’s philosophy, faith and approach to the challenges we face.
We all suffer adversity in life. Obviously, some much greater than just losing a basketball game. The Old Testament patriarch Job opined that “man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1)
People of faith are not exempt from the troubles and trials of life. Physical ailments. Emotional heartache. Ruptured relationships. Broken homes. Spiritual temptations. Loss of love. Open ridicule. Financial hardships. And a public fall from grace. These and many more are obstacles we can all experience.
The question is not will problems arise, but how you will face them?
Will you “walk by faith and not by sight? (2 Cor. 5:17)
Will you “cast your burden on the Lord,” knowing He cares and will sustain you? (I Pet 5:7; Ps 55:22)
Will you lean on God’s power, learn from His promises, and look for His purpose? 2 Chron 32:7-8; Jas 1:18; 1 Pet 1:5).
The late Napoleon Hill, an American author and motivational speaker once wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
Will you allow you setbacks to give you a “gift” and produce the “seed” for some benefit?
If you do, you can rewrite your legacy from loser to winner.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman