The Success Formula at Work

posted on: June 23, 2013
author: Brian Lomax

Aggressive hockey player

A couple of months ago, I posted a formula for success that the best teams and athletes use on a consistent basis in all areas of their competitive careers:

Success = Optimism * (Persistence + Resilience)

Recently, it occurred to me that we’ve seen some great examples of this in both the NHL and NBA playoffs this spring in which teams facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit were able to apply the success formula and emerge victorious. Let’s start with hockey as each of the two teams vying for the Stanley Cup has their own comeback story. The Boston Bruins were trailing 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs with approximately 11 minutes remaining in the deciding game 7 of their series. Then Bruins winger Nathan Horton got one back for the home team. From the Boston Globe:

“It was tough being on the bench, getting booed, looking up at the time clock, and watching those seconds count down,” Brad Marchand said. “But after [David Krejci’s] line got that first one for us and started to climb back, you could see the emotion on the bench. Guys started to believe. That’s what we needed.”

That belief, that optimism is what they needed to fuel the fighting spirit for the win. From that point on, the Bruins were in control of the game. They tied it up with seconds left in regulation and won the game six minutes into overtime.

In Chicago, the story was different, as the Blackhawks, owners of the best regular season record in the NHL, were trailing 3 games to 1 versus their hated rival the Detroit Red Wings. A series loss to Detroit would have been a crushing blow to the team that appeared so dominant for much of the shortened regular season. After a loss in game 4, the Blackhawks held a team meeting which may have been the catalyst to their epic comeback. From ESPN:

“We dug really deep,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We came in here and asked ourselves a question: How bad we wanted it. You got your answer right there. That’s a heck of a way to pull out four wins in seven games.”

Like the Bruins did in their series versus the Leafs, the Hawks went to OT in game 7 to get their series victory. Toews’ comment is insightful in that it refers to an appeal to the team’s motivation and how bad they wanted it. Tapping into your motivation is a great way to make the Success Formula even more powerful.

The most recent example of an amazing comeback involved the Miami Heat and their game 6 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. Trailing by 5 points with 20 seconds remaining, Miami fans started streaming out of the arena believing their team was through and that the Spurs would soon be celebrating another championship. Those fans, like most, don’t understand how elite athletes approach such situations and that they always have a belief that they can do something to pull out a victory. A 3-point shot from Ray Allen with seconds to go in regulation sent the game into OT and those fans who had left were pleading with arena security to let them back in the building. The Heat would go on to win by 3 in overtime.

What’s the common thread in these 3 comebacks? Of course, the Success Formula is at work through Optimism, Persistence and Resilience, but at a more specific level, it’s all about focusing on what you need to do in the moment. When the Bruins were trailing 4-1, the focus was to get just one goal, not 3. When they got that, then the focus was on getting another. And then another. The same process applies to the Blackhawks except for them, they needed the next game. And then the next. And then the next. In each of those games, the focus narrowed to getting the next goal. That’s how you win. You don’t win by trying to win. You win by focusing on the right things in the present moment. That process along with the Success Formula makes any athlete or team a great competitor.

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About the Author

Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.

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