Losing Haunts Me... But in a Good Way

October 13, 2016

With it being a few weeks before Halloween and the start of the NBA season this clip of LeBron James caught my eye.  A “haunting” perceived as a motivator… Happy Halloween!




Training and what goes on at training is the making or breaking of teams. In team sports it’s the time when individuals become one unit and learn to act and react in the whole team’s best interest. Mindsets at this time, are extremely important and so is communication between team mates and coaches. Use of language conveys messages which give us an insight into the state of the team as a whole and maybe a predictor of what we can expect performance-wise.



Those at the top in sport know how to be resilient. And it is to top level athletes that we look in order to try and understand and apply lessons in resilience. Recently LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers gives us a brief glimpse of how to think resiliently in a TV interview as he enters pre-season build-up and training. Have a look at the interview and notice how LeBron corrects the interviewer immediately following one of the questions. He won’t let words be put into his mouth which elevate his opponent to a higher status. Watch his reaction when the interviewer reminds him of his team experience last season. He says that it was no specific opponent that haunted him but the losing. Losing was what he wanted to change not the opponent. Furthermore he uses this “haunting” to create a powerful and contagious motivational spirit within himself and within his team. He knows that the team need to be on the same page and have one shared mindset in order to overcome the “haunting” of being defeated.


It sounds like loss in this case causes some negative emotion… a sequence of events that almost any human being can relate to… something bad happened and this will cause a reaction. Can you think of and compare a moment of loss or failure and recount your reaction? Was the reaction useful? Did your reaction help you in the long run?


Let that reaction to an unwanted event take you to a better place. Rise from it, grow from it and use it as a motivator. Don’t hide from it, ignore it. We will use effort to manage a bad situation whatever happens. You can use that effort to recover and grow or you can use that effort to suffer. The revelation is that we have a choice and we can use examples of elite athletes to gives us clues as to the “how?” Furthermore if you’re working within a team this reaction will effect each part of it, your team could be your sports team or equally could be your family; friends; work colleagues or a social group that you’re part of.


“All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”   

 – Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince


I know this is easy to say and hard to do. We have emotions for a reason and we know that sometimes our brains go on autopilot when it comes to how we tend to react in certain situations. Having said that there is a big part of our brains which makes sense of the situation and then reacts. It’s the bit where we make sense of the situation that things can and do end up going a bit wrong. This is mostly because we think negatively about the situation in that moment. Thoughts like I can’t do it, stand it or like it are strong and well-worn thinking paths, and they quickly lead to reactions of thinking what to do and our bodies react physiologically giving us uncomfortable responses which demand we stop doing this and do something else.


The thing is this. We can change the thinking and the reacting. We can be more effective and positive. But… as with anything… it’s not easy to break the pattern. It takes time and effort to get there. Anything that’s worth doing is full of a positive effort. Accept the challenging effort required and you’ll get there.


Interesting Stuff-


Here are some more resources that you might like to look at if you’d like to learn more. Their classics from my field. 

A Guide to Rational Living- Albert Ellis



This is the guide that informs the type of therapy that I work with. It is direct and simple and makes lots of sense to me. It asks questions about your own beliefs about the situations you find yourself in and makes you question your reactions and what actually motivates them. It’s a classic text written by the founder of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy which is a branch of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl


I think everyone would benefit from reading this book, even if only to remember and respect the suffering that was endured during the Second World War. It is part memoir, part handbook for psychologists but it gives a great insight into how you can find the meaning or purpose or teaching in any situation and grow from it.

Stress & Emotion: A New Synthesis – Richard Lazarus


This is an academic text that I’m currently reading and gives a somewhat complicated but practical understanding about how stress is governed by the way we see the world around us. It is informing some of the key concepts around my PhD studies and help me work myself out a bit too! 

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