Be Grateful, Not Bitter

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March Madness is a great time of year. Sixty-eight teams are selected to play in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament and another 68 teams are selected to play in the Division I women’s basketball tournament. This is a time for spirited basketball, upsets, excitement and celebration.

I was surprised the other day by the reaction from one of the coaches whose team received an automatic bid to the women’s NCAA tournament. They hadn’t won their conference’s regular season championship and were therefore an underdog to win their conference tournament. The winner of this low-major Division I conference tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, while the other teams stay home. As is usual at this time of year, there are upsets in the conference tournament, and when the final horn sounded in the championship game, this underdog team won the championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

What a great honor to advance to the NCAA tournament – right? Not in this coach’s eyes. This coach was upset that his team received a low seed in the tournament and he made his opinion public.

Instead of being grateful for the opportunity to play on this big stage in front of thousands of people, the coach bashed the committee and the system, saying that his team was better than this low seed. I can only imagine how deflated his players must have felt as the coach continued to berate the selection committee and gripe about their unjust seeding. Just the opposite should have occurred. By winning the conference championship, the team should be grateful for this opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. They should be celebrating their good fortune, and preparing for an opportunity to upset one of the best teams in the country.

Being disappointed at times is a part of life. So is how you react to this disappointment. Do you celebrate your successes, or are you bitter because it wasn’t enough? Nothing in life is owed to you. Be thankful when you have a win. Develop an improvement plan when you’re disappointed. Life, just like a sports season, is a process. There will be wins and losses along the way. How you react to these wins and losses will determine how happy you are in life, how motivated people are to support you, and how strong your relationships are with others.

In other words, be grateful that you and your team get the opportunity to play one of the top teams in the country. Be grateful that you get to stay in a nice hotel, eat wonderful food, and experience the buzz and atmosphere associated with the tournament. And most importantly of all, be grateful that you have this quality time to spend with your players. Most teams don’t have this opportunity. And if upsets didn’t occur along the way, you’d be watching the games at home.

The choice is yours – you can celebrate your good fortune, work hard to defeat your competition, and build lasting memories and relationships, or you can be bitter and feel sorry for yourself. I choose finding a way to upset the best team. I choose to be positive. I choose to be grateful for this opportunity.

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