Tuesday, March 6, 2007

How to Turn Discouragement into Encouragement

“Successful people become discouraged only momentarily." These words were spoken by coach Jeff Bzdelik after his Air Force Academy Falcon BB team lost their 1st home game in 30 tries, second longest streak in the country. It was the last home game of the season, senior night—parents of players came from all parts of the country. Excitement was running high and Clune Arena was pulsating with energy. Basketball games at the United States Air Force Academy represent release in an otherwise intense training schedule.

The basketball team struggled to get home from weekend games in Texas due to weather related plane problems. They returned Monday eve, not able to have a full practice before Tuesday’s game and two players had been in the hospital for flu dehydration. After being up 11 points at the 10 minute mark, the team did not make a basket the last 5 minutes. They lost to BYU, Mountain West Conference Champs, by 4 points.

Disappointment was rampant; the senior night celebration dampened if not doused by defeat. One senior player in particular could not hold his head up during the after game recognition moments. My son, hoarse from yelling for his fellow cadet classmates, shed tears and said this team was special. This group deserved to win; best record in AFA history, conference champs last year, sold out home games, not to mention terrific team spirit and individual intensity.

But they didn’t and misery multiplied.

Coach’s words soothed a little. “In all my years at the college and NBA level, I have never had more respect for the character and integrity of a team.” But the dull ache remained the morning after.

What can successful people do to deal with discouragement momentarily and get back in the game?
Here are several simple rules to remember to encourage yourself and others.

1) Look forward not back and do the next thing to prepare. It sounds simple but is powerful. For the Air Force Falcons basketball team The Mountain West Conference tournament begins next week and if they want to get to the big dance, their focus has to be firmly grounded on that goal. The team/individual can acknowledge the pain, learn from the loss and then let that fuel the passion to perform better next time. My husband’s famous speech to our children, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going. You know what you are made of inside by the way you get up and get better after the fall. And it’s not if you fall-it’s when.’ The day after any loss, do the next thing. Take a deep breath, then go to practice, hit the books, make that phone call and try again.

2) Listen to and learn from encouraging words spoken. What coach said about the team and each individual player was heartwarming, gentle and kind, the right words after such a loss. Tomorrow, there will be time for inspiring and motivating speeches. Today, the words were soothing and complimentary. Although they will never forget that game, their disappointment will lessen with time and other struggles life inevitably brings will take its place. "Positive well timed words have power to make one want to continue on, to uplift or do inspiring acts."
See more on encouraging words in

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