After a loss or poor performance as a young player, all I wanted to do was get to the next game.
Bad games left a bad taste. The only fix was to compete again and right the wrong.
As I matured in my career, and despite my eagerness to move forward, I learned the value in looking back. If I jump ahead too quickly, I might miss the most important lessons.
As an athlete, that meant to review the game film. It was never fun revisiting my poor decisions and bad play, but it was necessary if I wanted to grow from the bad.
The film provided me with crucial feedback. I could view specific situations that I knew I’d face again and learn how to better navigate them.
Sometimes, reviewing the film was incredibly frustrating because I saw how some of the bad was completely outside of my control. It could’ve been a bogus and momentum-shifting call from a referee or a coach’s decision that didn’t play out well.
While I may have had zero control over some of those things — I was able to witness how I responded. Did my body language go negative? Did my level of engagement change? Did I bring my teammates together, or was I stuck on myself?
For much of the world, 2020 has been a big loss. We’ve all been negatively affected to a degree by Covid and other events of the past year. If you’re anything like me, then the temptation is to think, “Just get to 2021. Turn the page. Let’s put this past year behind us and move on. I’m done with canceling events and family gatherings. When’s the vaccine gonna be distributed? When will life return to normal?”
I get it. I’m there with you. Besides, at the end of every year, I’m always a bit ready to get to the next year. There’s a freshness and a hope with what’s new. But I’d encourage you to run back the tape on this past year. There’s much we can learn from pausing to take inventory of what we’ve been through. And similar to athletics, there’s often more we can learn from our losses than our victories.
Wins can blind us to reality. But losses often expose us to the truth.
2020 has stripped away a lot. It’s simplified many of our lives, and I believe that can be a prime opportunity to learn more about ourselves and how to progress with whatever the next year throws at us.
This isn’t difficult. Take an hour or two to go back through the past year. Review your calendar (or Instagram reel). Do it alone or do it with your spouse, family, or team.
Here’s a few questions I’d ask after games to myself and also with my team. They’re the same questions I now ask myself and with my wife.
- What went well? What worked?
- What didn’t go well?
- What must change?
- How did I respond to the adversity?
My college coach, Bruce Weber, used to say, “You’re never quite as good or bad as you think.” The film usually proved that to be true. But after some games, the film could be downright ugly. Taking just a little bit of time to review before moving on allowed me to own it all — the good, bad, and ugly. Facing that and learning from it is what toughened my resolve and polished my game to become better the next time around.
2021 is around the corner. Unfortunately, all of our problems won’t be gone once January 1st hits. No matter how this year has gone for you — I guarantee there’s plenty to look back on and learn from.
Take a small step back. Review. Remorse. Rejoice. Remember. You’ll be better for it.