Bret Burchard 01/28/2021
2 Minutes

Victim of External Circumstances

This is Part 4 of a six-part series unpacking how to recognize when you’re performing with an inferior mindset. 

When you feel stuck with no clear way forward, you force your will onto a situation trying to prove that you’re right. When you speak should statements, you pressure yourself to follow the path of tradition or other influential people and ignore the unique direction and needs of your journey. 

The third way to recognize when you’re performing with an inferior mindset is to notice when you see yourself as a victim of external circumstances. 

Clue #3: You’re the victim of external circumstances

You fall during an elementary routine. You miss wide open shots. You draft a bust in the lottery. You lose an important game you were favored to win. What is your explanation to yourself and others? Was the lighting bad? Court slippery? Refs cheat you? Travel delayed? Too noisy? Was your opponent unorthodox?

I lost a tennis match to an opponent who did not hit a single winner. In fact, he barely hit the ball at all. He had novice-level skills and could only punch the ball back to me. Every backhand was a pop up slice that landed six feet inside the baseline. Every forehand was essentially a drop shot. It irritated me to the point of frustration. I tried to prove with my power that he didn’t belong on the court with me. With every swing of my ego, errors began to pile up. Backhands went into the net. Forehands sailed long. After the match my wife asked how it went. 

“He was terrible,” I said. 

“So you won?”

“Well, no...”

I considered quitting the league. I needed real competition. An opponent who could hit a groundstroke. These players in the B division were so bad I couldn’t beat them. 

This kind of rationalization is an attempt to protect our ego. We can’t stomach the reality that we aren’t as good as we thought we were. The results are an indictment on who we are and our status. We have to protect ourselves by deflecting the blame onto external variables. Because our mindset is consumed with our self-image, we miss the opportunity to improve skills that can make us a better all around player. 

LeBron James credits his 2011 NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks for making him a more complete player. The Mavericks used a defensive scheme that exposed his flaws and he learned from it. 

When the Toronto Raptors switched to a rare box-and-1 defense to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals, Warriors players dismissed it as a “junk defense”, something only used in high school. It sounds similar to my explanation that these guys aren’t good enough to play with me. 

Some external circumstances will impact your ability to perform at your highest potential, but what are you doing about the things you can control? And what flaws are those factors exposing in your skill set or toolset that you can improve? Are you prepared for every obstacle that may be thrown at you? 

A pro needs optimal conditions to perform. A world-class performer can bring his best regardless of the circumstances.

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