Word count: 1115
Estimated reading time: 5.5 minutes
“Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill.
It was game 2 of the 2019 Western Conference first-round playoffs. The three-peat hopefuls, Golden State Warriors were facing the Los Angeles Clippers. Having already won Game 1, the Warriors were looking to make it two wins in a row on their home court. Ahead by 23 points at half time, the Warriors were well on their way to the perfect start to the playoffs.
Heading into the locker room, the Clippers must have been deflated and they should have been. First, they fell into a hole of their own making with careless and avoidable mistakes. Second, the Warriors were an offensive juggernaut, boasting Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson, arguably three of the best shooters in the game. Third, this was the home court for the Warriors where they had won 20 of their last 21 games. If the Clippers were going to mount a comeback, it would take an insurmountable effort. According to ESPN Stats and Information, they had a 0.01 percent win probability.
In the locker room, Clippers coach Doc Rivers tried to restore confidence and belief in his team with a simple statement, “We are going to win.” The second half didn’t start as planned. The hole became a crater. The Clippers found themselves in a 31 point deficit. They didn’t give up. They believed. And they won!
How do we win when we find ourselves behind in life? Have you ever felt like you should be further along than where you are now? How do we continue to believe that even now, with all the mistakes and regrets, avoidable or unavoidable, we can right the ship and make progress? This is the focus of today’s post as we look at two things we must overcome to play from behind and win.
According to geologists, quicksand can occur anywhere. Quicksand is a soupy mixture of sand and water. it is dangerous because of its sinking effect. The worst thing you can do in quicksand is to become desperate or panic. You will only sink deeper. A crucial part of surviving quicksand is remaining calm.
Doubt is like mental quicksand. It waterlogs our mind with thoughts of fear, shame, and insecurity. William Shakespeare called doubt a “traitor that makes us lose the ground we often might win, by fearing to attempt.” We retreat from doing anything worthwhile because we question our ability to do anything meaningful.
The Clippers must have bemoaned all their mistakes which put them into their predicament. If only they could go back and undo them. It may have even cast doubt on their ability to compete against such a formidable team. But they displayed the character that Debbie Ford expressed in saying, “An exciting and inspiring future awaits you beyond the noise in your mind of guilt, doubt, fear, shame, insecurity, and heaviness of the past you carry around.” Life doesn’t offer us a chance to relive the past but to learn from it and lean to the future with hope.
Doubt is not overcome immediately but through daily and intentional steps of faith and belief. First, watch the company you keep. Our own doubts become magnified when we consistently keep company with people who always express doubt. We ebb into pessimism this way. Choose friends that will challenge you while instilling confidence and faith that the second half can be better than the first. As Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”
Second, talk yourself into what you want to accomplish through daily affirmations. And take decisive action. Doubt often becomes the validator for inaction. Embracing the voice of doubt through uncertainty erodes the truth of our purpose and significance. We sink deeper and deeper into fear under its relentless bombardment. But we can find stable ground by calming our minds and believing that doubt, as discouraging as it may be, does not have the final word. Faith does.
If doubt is a traitor then discouragement is a deflator. Like poking holes in a hot air balloon, fatigue, frustration, and even failure are common piercing agents through which discouragement creeps in and threatens to plummet our lives. Discouragement, which often starts off as disappointment turns lethal when our hurts infect our hopes. As we watch the opioid crisis and the rates of suicide rise due to depression and anxiety, I cannot help but wonder if discouragement has played a role.
Pastor Joel Osteen believes “one big test we all face in life on a regular basis is the discouragement test.” If it is an inevitable test, how do we pass it? First, confront the trigger of your discouragement. Is it failure, fatigue, frustration or something else? You cannot change what you are not willing to face. Being vague only strengthens its negative effect on our lives. Once we nail down the origin of discouragement, then we can appropriately deal with it. Second, we must develop clarity about our identity apart from the discouragement we are facing. Sometimes we can merge failing at something as being a failure in life. This deception can throw us off course and even lead us down the path of depression. Third, celebrate small wins along the journey of life. Have you noticed how easy it is to recount negative things but difficult to remember the positive ones? This is why keeping a journal is important. I have found it hard to stay discouraged when I playback things to celebrate. In short, count your blessings! Finally, find someone to encourage. This is one of the fastest and surest ways to invite light into your life when you are experiencing the darkness of disappointment.
Have adverse circumstances deflated your enthusiasm for life? Has the light you carry been dimmed by the darkness of the days you are living in? How many times have you been disappointed with your dreams and goals not materializing? The Clippers believed beyond their discouragement and doubt that they could still win. So can you.
Final thought: Never doubt that you can make a difference. Even with all the mistakes you may have made. Look at the second half of the year, not with doubt, but with the same confidence that coach Rivers held to when he told his team, “We are going to win.” Don’t let discouragement deflate you and talk you out of what you can accomplish in the next six months. Chart a course for your life, focus on it and steer clear from distractions in your path meant to derail you from your destination. The better half is up ahead. Believe it!
Keep on keeping on!