The Key to Finding Balance in Your Life
During one of my first coaching stops, our head basketball coach would always tell our team after each game, “You’re never as good as you think you are when you win and you’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose.” I’ve carried this with me in my private and personal endeavors. The underlying message implores us to always find balance and equanimity in all that we do.
We’re never quite as different in action as we may think we are in our heads. Our thoughts and actions are fueled by emotion. When we win, we tend to be colored with happy, emotive thoughts. We’re satisfied and exuberant! When we lose, we’re more sullen. It becomes easy to find fault and assign blame.
Each day, we’re tested. Emotional highs and lows are simply a fact of life. Managing these emotions through the good and bad times define us. How we react speaks to the core of who we are. The way we respond to the stimuli and external forces around us are what determine whether we live happy, fulfilling lives.
When you get knocked down, the question is, “Are you gonna get up?” When you’re soaring above the clouds, eventually you will come down from that emotional high. How soft will your landing be? Will you find yourself so resentful and troubled by the “coming down” that it throws you off into a tailspin?
This is the quintessential paradigm for emotional intelligence. Your highs can be high, but better not to be too high, so that you delude yourself into thinking you’ll never come down. You will come down. That’s living in the real world. It’s the law of gravity juxtaposed against emotional relativity.
And those lows? The depression, failures, broken relationships and missed opportunities? They’re just a phase. You’re just passing through. This time too shall pass.
There will be time for redemption, new opportunities and sunny days ahead. Keep your head up and recognize, no matter which phase you’re in, that maintaining emotional balance is the key to a happy life. Don’t just listen to my take on this. Take the story of MVP quarterback, Matt Ryan. His past year is a testament to grace and perseverance through extremely high highs and hard-to-swallow lows.
The Story of Matt Ryan
Nearly five months ago, coming off a record-breaking season and league MVP award, Matt Ryan suffered the most devastating loss of his professional career. The Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots 28–3 with less than three minutes remaining in Super Bowl LI. Everyone on the planet, maybe with the exception of the team in white jerseys and blue pants, thought the game was over.
An Atlanta victory would be a fitting coronation for Ryan. An MVP season, a Super Bowl title and possibly the Super Bowl MVP. Except, it was not meant to be. New England kept scoring and Atlanta kept faltering. The bubbly was on ice in the Atlanta locker room, but there it would remain.
It took overtime for New England to pull off their epic comeback. Ryan was stunned. Who wouldn’t be? But for a man who is known to many by the nickname, “Matty Ice”, even a loss this bad was not crippling. Ryan was never too high during the highs of an incredible individual and team season. So he wouldn’t sink to the bottom during the lowest low of his career.
Asked recently what his focus is now and whether he and his team are still dwelling on that loss, Ryan said,
“Our focus is what is front of us. We learned a lot from last year. We’ll take those learning lessons with us, but we have to find a way to make this group the best group that we can be.”
Matt Ryan has the perspective to know that wins and losses do not define us. It’s how we maintain our composure, sense of self-worth and confidence throughout the good and bad times. Don’t let the wins or losses get you crazed. Keep driving forward. Celebrate life’s wins and then, move on. Learn from your losses, and keep striving to be your best.