Opportunities, I mean the once in a lifetime opportunities, don’t come around very often. When that moment arises, you have to take it and run with it. You can’t look back.
To seize your opportunity, you must:
- Focus on one game at a time – You can’t get ahead of yourself. You can’t look five steps, or five games, down the line. Focus on the task at hand. Then, execute like there’s nothing to lose.
- Believe in yourself – You’re here for a reason. This opportunity has come your way for a reason. Believe that you deserve it. It’s easy to second-guess yourself. Stay determined and keep the faith. Fake it if you must.
- Be resilient – You’ll experience setbacks along the way and you just have to push through. Take failures as learning experiences. When you get knocked down, get back up. When you’re close to success and reaching your goal, don’t slow down. That’s when you need to push harder so you leave nothing to chance.
I make tons of sports analogies. Why? I think they there are so many lessons of life in sports. You can find them in almost every game. Whether a team fights back from 25 pts down or a player who makes it back from an ACL injury he/she just suffered 10 months ago.
VCU could be driving their way through the NIT right now. Many pundits still claim that’s where they should be. They barely made it in. In fact, they had to play an extra “play-in” game just to get into the final 64 teams. This is the first year of 68 teams so if it was a year ago, they’re not in. ESPN analyst, Jay Bilas, called VCU getting into the tourney “indefensible.” You think coach Shaka Smart has used that as motivation? He’s been showing his team clips of all the pundits saying they had no chance of winning – talk about getting your team Game Ready.
Look at these guys now. They didn’t just beat Kansas, a no 1 seed, they crushed them. They stuck the dagger in and kept turning it. After being up by double digits at halftime, Kansas fought back to within two points late in the game.VCU did what most teams don’t do. They seized the moment when the heat was turned up, and they delivered in the clutch. They seemed to hit big shot after big shot. It was incredible to watch. Joey Rodriguez, their diminutive PG, air-balled a three-pointer at a pretty crucial time. Most players would probably go back into their shell and just pass from then on out. What did he do the next chance he had? He threw up another three – nothing but net. That takes guts and an unwavering belief in yourself. That is seizing the moment and overcoming resistance at its finest. VCU has beaten five teams from the five big conferences.
On to Butler. Last year’s Cinderella, who was less than an inch from winning a National Title, and maybe the most amazing winning shot in the history of all sports. Well – they’re back. They needed a last-second layup to win in round 1. Then, they knocked off Pittsburgh and Florida, most recently, to make it back to the final four. They were big underdogs in both and battled back in both games. They’re truly seizing the moment, for the second year in a row. How about their young coach, Brad Stevens? I love listening to this guy and watching him during games. He rarely gets too up or down – a crucial trait of a great leader. Is there a better coach in the country, regardless of age?
You can even look at UCONN and Kentucky. Kentucky loses five first-round draft picks from last year’s team. They beat the overall no. 1, Ohio State, then take down North Carolina, who easily could’ve been a no. 1. They’ve got a kid who played 80 minutes all of last season. He has stepped up and been their best player. Again, seizing the moment.
UCONN is unbelievable. After a ninth-place finish in the Big East regular season, they rattle off five wins in five days to win their conference tournament. I’ll be the first to admit, I thought they’d be out early in the tournament. I just thought they’d be emotionally and physically drained. It makes it that much more unbelievable that they continue to win. Nine straight win or go home games.
These are the highest combined seeds ever in the tournament (11, 8, 3, and 3). I’d argue that it’s the greatest NCAA tourney in history. Anyone of these team’s winning makes for quite a story on Monday night. Add in the fact that you have two small conference teams and 30 something coaches playing in the first game (VCU vs. Butler), and two big-time coaches and teams playing Saturday night (Uconn vs. Kentucky). You can’t write this stuff.
I have a t-shirt that I wear all the time. It says, Carpe Diem, which means Seize the Day. When in doubt, know that today is what you have in front of you. We’ve all been given today as a gift. Maybe it’s not the once in a lifetime opportunity I’ve talked about above, however, today is a huge opportunity to do something great. Not tomorrow and not yesterday. It’s today that matters. Think about that for a second and ask yourself…