Triumph & Disaster
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
Christmas break is here, and I am a happy coach. Just a week ago, I was miserable. Isn't life funny? I can somehow slip in and out of balance because of a simple game I coach. The objective is to put an orange, round ball into a basket. If we score more than our opponent, we win! If we don't, the sky is falling – or so it seems. Rudyard Kipling, a Victorian poet, wrote an insightful poem If– and did a beautiful job addressing this matter of perspective. In it he says:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;
We put together two back-to-back wins this weekend, and as I already alluded to, it feels good to win. We were a happy team driving back. As we should be. Celebrations are one of the simple pleasures in life. Don't pass them by. However, let's not let the outcome of a game define who we are. As Kipling says, Triumph is an imposter, and we need to climb cautiously up this slippery slope. Pride has a way of rearing its ugly head before the fall. Stay sober and keep our wits about us. Can we be confident? Of course, but there is a good chance we are not as good as we think we are. (Sorry, if that's too old school. Just being real.) Now, on the other hand, we are never as bad either. Remember, Kipling is emphasizing Disaster is no different than Triumph. They are both imposters. We need to have the wisdom to treat the two just the same. Your worth as person does not go up because you scored a double-double. Nor does it go down if you missed the game winning freethrow. Social media may tell you differently, but that's a lie.
We need to see through a different lens – one of hope and not hype. Ask yourself after each practice and game if you were a great teammate? Did you prepare and put forth your best effort to improve and make those around you better? Have you surrendered yourself to the team? All of these questions and more, help us to see the big picture and truly measure greatness. Kipling concludes the poem by saying:
...And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Isn't this why we play (and coach) the game, or at least one of the primary reasons? To become more mature and lacking nothing. To lose ourselves in the team and never stop getting better. So the next time you Win or Lose, remind yourself they are both posers and treat them alike. Your identity is not in what you do, but who you become.