I have always avoided watching teams from Toronto play. When asked, I rationalized it by claiming that I was ‘bad luck. Often I would say: “Toronto always loses”. Soon, those lines started to feel fake.
“Bad luck” was ridiculous cover. I have as much impact on a game as … the bird flying outside my window. It was an excuse to avoid the emotional see-saw of wanting a team to win, being unable to change the outcome, and having those hopes dashed. As for my line on “always losing” – in it I saw something darker and more damaging: my rationalizing mediocrity.
You see, losing is the ‘easy’ path. It’s comfortable. You can show up, do the minimum and fade away. If you want to win … well then, you have to work for it. You have to want it. You have to own that desire and own the hurt when you don’t get it. You’ll have to take chances and be uncomfortable. Be used to your chances failing – of you failing. And uncomfortable failure – when you feel like you’re close, but just not good enough – is the default when going up against winners. It’s so much easier to simply say “We always lose” and give yourself permission to not even really try.
So, yesterday I watched Game 6 of the NBA Finals. And I saw two teams that really cared – that really wanted it – fight to the last minute. I lived the longest minute of my life – hell, the longest 0.9s of my life – held my breath when the game wasn’t called, and then – teared up – put my head on the bar as Toronto brought a trophy home.