"We had to go through a lot of adversity. That struggle that we went through in March, where we lost five straight -- all of them close games, where we didn't execute down the stretch and weren't able to close games out -- that helped us. As painful as that was, we had to go through that fire together to be able to gain the confidence where we could be successful now in the postseason."
--Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, after his team won the NBA Eastern Conference playoff finals with a 83-80 win over the Chicago Bulls.
The Heat came back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win the game in Chicago, against the top-seeded Bulls. The Heat won the series 4-1 after losing badly in first game of the series. So, the Heat are no strangers to adversity.
The Heat will now face the NBA Western Conference champions, the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-1 in that series. The Mavericks beat the Heat in both of their regular season games. In addition, the Heat and the Mavericks faced each other in the 2006 NBA Finals, in which the Heat won 4-2 after trailing 0-2 after the first two games.
Great team players possess a mental toughness and a particular mindset that sets them apart. This mental conditioning allow them to fight through fierce competition, adversity, and pressure. This unique personality characteristic puts them in the best position to succeed.
Success requires perseverance and determination. Success involves the ability to persist through difficulties. To these athletes, failure is not an option.
Success requires tenacity and the willingness to pay the price, including enduring the pain, suffering and hard work that it takes to practice, prepare for and fight through the exhaustion of a long regular season and the playoffs.
Finally, to achieve the goal of a championship, the players must be driven to incredibly high levels of performance. They must have the ability to deal with adversity through their extreme emotional strength and resilience. They must have a tolerance for pressure and stress. They must quickly bounce back from setbacks (from missed shots and fouls to single game losses).
Both the Heat and the Mavericks have been through considerable adversity to get to this point: The NBA Finals. They have prepared for months and years for this. Who will prevail? Who will have the mental toughness to take the title?
How about you?
Are you prepared for success? Can you fight through adversity with tenacity and perseverance?
Excerpts take from ESPN.com (May 26, 2011) and The Handbook of Peak Performance.