It feels surreal, but it’s not a dream! The Cleveland Cavaliers ended the 52-year championship drought for the city of Cleveland. As remarkable as ending the drought is, even more remarkable is the way they accomplished this feat. Now, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the reigning champions, and the organization has achieved the ultimate goal of a sports franchise – winning it all!
There are several lessons that we can learn from the Cavs momentous road to victory, and if we apply them to our own careers, we can rise to the top of our fields. Let’s take a look at what the 2016 NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have taught us.
Lesson #1: Don’t Let Being an Underdog Deter You – The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated what was arguably the greatest team in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors broke several records during the 2015-2016 season, including having the top all-time regular season record of 73-9. And, only 2 of their 9 losses were at home. However, the Cavs were not deterred by the daunting task before them. They were confident that they could pull off what the basketball experts thought was improbable – and they did!
Everyone at some point in their lives has been an underdog. But, just because you are not toted as the “cream of the crop” doesn’t mean you cannot become the best. If you are intimidated by the success of others, you will never reach your goals.
Lesson #2: A Supportive Team Matters – Would the Cavaliers have won the championship without LeBron James? No. But, LeBron would not have been able to guide the Cavaliers to victory if his team didn’t follow his lead. In the final minutes of game 7, LeBron blocked a lay-up to turn the game’s momentum in the Cavs’ favor. But without Kyrie Irving’s clutch 3-pointer with 53 seconds left in the game, and Kevin Love’s staunch defense against the 2016 MVP, Stephen Curry, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the outcome may have been one of defeat and not of celebration. LeBron needed his team to step up and they rose to the challenge.
In business, having the support from a team who will work with you, not against you, and whose skill set complements yours, is vital to your success. You will reach your true potential only if you are confident in your own ability, and you encourage those around you to be confident in theirs.
Lesson #3: Be Adaptable and Persevere Rather than Give Up – The Cavaliers adapted and persevered throughout the Finals. The Warriors started strong with home court advantage to begin the series. In games 1 and 2, it was painfully obvious that the Cavs game plan wasn’t working and they were outmatched. But, the Cavs made some key adjustments in game 3 and they won big. Unfortunately, game 4 was a different story. The Warriors, being the championship-caliber team that they are, made adjustments of their own, winning decisively. Down 3-1 in the series, the outlook was bleak for Cleveland.
With what seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle before them, the table was set for the Cleveland Cavaliers to throw in the towel. But, they didn’t. Instead, they adapted, persevered and overcame, making history by accomplishing something that no other team has done in the Finals. They rallied from a 3-1 deficit, winning 3 consecutive games against one of the best teams of all-time, including 2 victories on Golden State’s home court. The Cavaliers were champions! It was David defeating Goliath.
Being willing to admit that your current plan isn’t working, and making the necessary adjustments to find success is a key factor in how far you will go in your career. At times, unforeseeable roadblocks will stand in your way. But, if you are innovative and you find new solutions, no problem is too big to overcome as proven by the Cavs. If they can win, so can you.
Lesson #4: Look to the Future – On parade day, LeBron promised to return to Cleveland for the 2016-2017 NBA season to defend the title. Even Richard Jefferson, who initially was planning to retire, told the crowd of 1.3 million that he will return. Just days after their hard-fought victory, the new goal has been set – winning back-to-back championships.
If you get to the top, but you sit back and coast, you won’t remain there very long. Like the Cavaliers, once you achieve your objective (and after a little celebrating), you need to look to the future and set new goals so that you can reach greater heights.
In closing, winning is rarely easy, regardless of whether it is on a basketball court or in the business world. To win, pursuing a career where you can utilize your talents is important, but as the Cavaliers demonstrated, only with the right mindset and work ethic will you take your career to the next level.
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