I coached the basketball team at the University of St. Francis for 34 years. In December of 1987 we went to the west coast to play the University of San Francisco. We were a small, liberal arts university in Joliet, Illinois. I would guess the players on that San Francisco team had never heard of us.
Although rare, it did happen that an NCAA Division I team would play a Division III or NAIA team. Without being said, the bigger school would get a WIN and the smaller school would receive a guarantee, a monetary stipend to offset their travel costs.
We did accomplish the upset. We killed them as we beat them by one point! Although I have no idea why we won, I think there was a good reason for our victory. I believe the San Francisco players felt that they could show up, play the game, and get their win. It would be that simple.
Better Than Us at Every Position
The San Francisco team had two 7 footers, a 6’8” power forward, two jet quick guards, and the last pick of the 1st round of that year’s NBA Draft. Our tallest player was 6’6” and there was no question but that they had better players than us at every position. However, we were a pretty solid team.
Their players knew they were better than us but they forgot success is never owned.They also felt they would not have to play very hard to beat a team most people had never heard of, but they forgot the rent is due everyday.
We got off to a good start and you could see that our players began to believe that we could play with these guys. We were up 2 points at half time. They came out the second half with much more determination and energy. They were playing especially hard the first 5 minutes of the half, but we equaled their mindset and gained more confidence as the game progressed.
The Life Lesson
The above lesson from athletics is also true in life. After experiencing success in any endeavor, you cannot rest on your laurels. How many successful businesses have failed because they forgot how they got there? Success can lead to arrogance and mental and physical laziness. Many organizations fail after they succeed because they think they own success and forget the rent is due everyday.