How to feel like a winner even when your basketball team loses.

March is a thrilling month for sports fans. The NCAA basketball tournaments for both men and women provide an exciting distraction from the weather that never seems to be as warm and Marchy as the March in my head.

The basketball tournaments, affectionately known as March Madness, are fun to watch. Until they aren’t. What we fail to remember each year when the brackets are announced is that of the 64-ish teams in the tournament, all but one of them will end their season with a loss. That’s bad news, bears.

I pull for 3 teams that made the tournament: my home state University of Vermont Catamounts, my current hometown’s Maquette Golden Eagles, and my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

All 3 teams lost this weekend.

UVM and Marquette lost in the opening round. The 3-seed Badgers got bounced by the 11-seed Iowa State Cyclones after our starting point guard went down with a brankle late in the first half. (I don’t know what the official diagnosis was, but it looked like something broke in his ankle.)

Yes, I was disappointed by the losses. But I have noticed something very interesting in my adulthood. Unlike the lingering, long-lasting disappointment of my younger years, my disappointment today is very short-lived. By this, I mean that I bounce from a loss very quickly. In fact, I would say that I consistently move past my team’s losses within about 10 seconds. Which means a major loss now feels more like a mosquito bite than a bee sting or a Pamplona-style bull goring.

The Secret.

I know that the reason I bounce back from disappointment quickly now is that I feel like I am winning on my own scorecard. I engage in many personal and professional challenges and competitions. My progress, wins and successes in those arenas help minimize the negative impact I experience when my teams lose.

Here’s a list of some of my current challenges and competitions:

  1. I own a business. As an entrepreneur and owner of the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry, every day is an exciting challenge to win and get better than the day before.

2. I have written a book. In December I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It features 80 of the most important life lessons I have learned, packaged as simple, memorable fortune cookie fortunes. Promoting the book and related speaking events are fun ongoing challenges. (I currently have 8 speaking events in the works and would be thrilled to do more.)

3. I am coaching high school track and field. The improvement of my shot putters and discus throwers at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin is a major outlet for my competitiveness. I am challenged to get better as a coach every day. I am constantly trying to improve my processes, systems and coaching techniques. And I have found that I have way more influence over the outcomes of my track athletes’ performances than I do with the college basketball teams I support.

4. I coach youth football. The growth and development of our now 5th-grade boys are way more important to me than the wins and losses of a college basketball team. Which means I can enjoy a Marquette win, but I quickly shrug off a loss. (I am talking about Marquette basketball. Their football team can’t buy a win.)

5. I work out. My personal exercise routine and its impact on my health, strength and fitness is an infinite game that I play every day. I get quick feedback and great returns on my investments in my health.

6. More books. I have more books in the works. Writing a book is a major challenge. So when you make regular progress on major challenges like this it is hard to get thrown off by an external event like a basketball loss.

7. Appalachian Trail. My wife Dawn and I are planning to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in a decade. It is good to have future challenges planned. It gives you something to look forward to. The planning and preparing for this type of challenge makes you feel like you have an ever-expanding life.

Key Takeaway

The best cure for sports fan sadness is to have wins in your personal life. Make sure you are still competing and winning. Set goals and challenges for yourself both personally and professionally. Create your own scorecard. Play your own games and win. Start a business, side hustle or volunteer organization. Exercise. Enter competitions. Write a book. Enter a race or any other challenge that makes you feel like you are pushing yourself to do more. These will keep you focussed on your own wins. Which minimizes the impact, duration and magnitude of external losses.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+If you’re interested in other messages on how to live a happier, more positive life, check out my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media. Heck, reading the reviews alone sounds like a win to me.

The cure for disappointment is getting back to work.

Sometimes things go wrong. Actually, things go wrong all the time. It’s as predictable as a celebrity divorce. You will miss out on opportunities. You will lose games, money, clients, and jobs. You will get knocked down and spun around. Because life offers up a never ending conveyor belt of challenges. And not all of them go your way.

Bouncing Back

The best way to deal with loss and disappointment is to get right back to work. It’s as simple as that. Because there is something magical about the feeling of making progress that heals the bites, burns and bruises of life.

She is highly bummed. And highly bunned.

As you work towards your next success you are putting the past failure in the rear view mirror. You are investing in the next win, instead of dwelling on the last loss. You positively reorient your attention and focus as you begin traveling towards your next accomplishment. And the psychological effect is huger than Hugh Jackman.

Building, improving and gaining momentum lead to happiness. They are clear indicators that you are heading in the right direction. The more work you put in the more gravitational pull your next great goal creates. Which is far better than the gravitational pull donuts create.

Getting back to work is beneficial in every area of your life, including your career, relationships, fitness, athletics, academics and spirituality. I have used work as my bounce-back strategy as a student, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur. And it has never failed me. Yes, the past spring and summer have thrown us all adversity. But don’t let that define your fall. Get yourself back on the right track, by getting right back to work.

Key Takeaway

Don’t let disappointment stop you. Let it start you. Get back to work. Rebuild momentum. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are making progress. And don’t wait for someone else to give you an opportunity. Make one yourself.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.