Last night, in the NBA Finals, Los Angeles Lakers stumbled to a 87-81 victory against the Boston Celtics, pulling the series to within one game. A cook Kobe Bryant, in the post-game interview stressed how calm he and his team mates were, and that desperation never entered their minds.
"Just did what we were taught to do," he said in a post-game interview. At other times, Kobe would say, "We just need to take care of business," or "We play our game."
In a game that moves at a break neck speed, with probably the most nimble and athletic professionals, it is astonishing the best always come back and say the same things.
"Be yourself." "Focus only on what you can do, and not your opponent."
Tiger Woods, another one who knows how to win, repeats the same thing. "I just need to go out there and play my game and not worry about the others."
Alex Rodriguez fails at least 2 times out of three to get a hit, and is considered an excellent player, and if he can continue to fail at that rate, he will become a Hall of Famer. Tiger Woods fails to win a tournament at an even higher rate (except for his streak toward the end of last year). In fact, he's failed to win 80% of the Majors in the last year or so. Kobe Bryant misses over half of his shots.
The best amongst the best fail, and yet their relentless pursuit of perfection, of "taking care of business" or of "playing my game" separates them from the pretenders.
In the world of business, some leaders constantly worry about others. They pay monumental sums to get "industry best practices" and look for those with "significant industry experience" to come work for them. The new and daring is rejected, and the proven is the way to go. There will be no Kobe Bryants or Tiger Woods coming out of that pack.
In order to separate yourself from the pack, it all starts at home. It starts from people who embrace failure as much as they do success, and work hard every day so that they can be in that same situation again and again.
And in that final moment of pulling the trigger--whether it is swinging the bat, throwing the pitch, hitting the putt, or releasing the jump shot--I guarantee you that those professionals are only worried about the world which they can control, confident of the result, and unafraid of failure.
In sports, as it is in business, success only comes to those who are willing to fail.