And sometimes your bracket comes out smelling like a rose

In my previous post Sometimes Your Bracket Just Stinks – a Life Lesson I said you sometimes fail even after proper planning and research. It’s an unfortunate fact of life and you learn and move on, I said.

I wrote that after the first weekend of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, my bracket bloodied and battered by upsets and bad picks.

The bracket taught me another lesson last night.

The NCAA Tournament bracket as metaphor for life and career taught me another lesson last night. I’d picked Louisville to win it all – not a stretch as they were the overall #1 seed. But lots of #1 seeds bite the dust early and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Indeed, Louisville appeared to be headed home early a few times during the tournament. Here’s what I learned:

Stay the course.

You never know when an opponent is going to falter or an obstacle will crumble. If you’ve ever owned stocks you’ve heard the advice to ride out the peaks and valleys in the market. Don’t get too excited about the highs and don’t get too upset about the lows. Short term failures don’t tell the whole story. The prize doesn’t always go to the swiftest – more often it goes to the one who just keeps going.

You’re not the only one struggling.

All across the country people were groaning about the sea of red ink in their brackets. No one seemed to have done especially well with their picks. It wasn’t just me. At work or anywhere else, everyone around you may look like they have it all together. Don’t be fooled. We all have obstacles to overcome and sometimes those obstacles overcome us. Very few of us have it easy. Don’t assume you’re the only one carrying a heavy load.

Never give up.

Louisville came from double digit deficits more than once during the tournament. They found themselves down by 12 again in the championship game but they rallied to win the prize. When you suffer a setback or the opponents seem unbeatable, don’t forget that most setbacks are temporary. That is the time to persevere and not to throw in the towel.

I filled out my bracket prior to the tournament and entered it in 2 pools, one at my best friend’s place of work and one where I work. After the first weekend I was in 9th place in my friend’s pool  (middle of the pack) but finished 2nd after Louisville won. I’m in a tiebreaker for 1st place in my office pool. We’ll learn later today who won.

Regardless of whether the tiebreaker gives me the win in that pool or I come in 2nd, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve never done that well with a bracket before and for a while I assumed I was going down in flames yet again. But things can always change for the better, even when all seems lost.

What lessons have you learned? Please add a comment before you leave.

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