Lou Holtz the famous college football coach once said
"Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I'll show you someone who has overcome adversity."
The Carolina Panthers certainly taught us all a lesson in overcoming adversity during the 2014 season.
Similar to starting a new job or a new school, the Panthers entered the 2014 season feeling good about themselves. They had completed a winning season the year before despite being eliminated in the first playoff game. This season got off to a decent start with a 2-0 record. The fans were on board and everyone had high hopes. Then the Panthers hit a wall. It was as if someone had cast a spell over them. They won only one of their next nine games; well they did have a tie in there. Entering December with a record of 3-8-1, the fans and everyone else had counted them out. Maybe next year they would get their act together. This year the Panthers could count on a good draft pick.
Not so fast. While the outsiders had counted the Panthers out, the team, the players and most importantly their coach Ron Rivera still believed that the Panthers could salvage the season. The Panthers went on to win their next five games including their Wild Card Playoffs matchup against the Cardinals. Despite a losing record, the Panthers won their division for the second straight season, a feat not accomplished by any other team in their division since the creation of the NFC South.
So what happened that enabled the Panthers to turn their season around? The players and their head coach never gave up. As the rock band Journey sings “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Throughout our lives we will all be faced with adversity. The true test of character is how we face challenges. The Panthers had the advantage of having come off a winning season, so they were still familiar with success. They believed in themselves, their abilities and did not take drastic action. They stayed true to themselves and were determined to take the month of December one game at a time.
When dealing with adversity it is helpful to set ambitious, yet obtainable goals. In the case of the Panthers a playoff berth was still a possibility entering December. That provided the necessary focus and motivation for the team to take it one week at a time.
When faced with adversity in one’s professional or personal life, an approach similar to the Panthers can yield positive results. First, assess the situation. Understand the factors that led you to the situation that you are in. Second, focus your energy on the things within your control. This is the most important step. You must take things one day at a time and set mini milestones for yourself. Perseverance is about building positive momentum and that all starts with achieving small victories. As positive momentum builds, so will your confidence. Your goals begin to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
One should not try to deal with adversity alone. In tough times, friends, family members and professional coaches can provide the necessary support to improve the situation. The Panther’s success took a team effort and the same holds true when dealing with your own adversity. Engage a team of people to help you through.
As the Panther's slogan states "KEEP POUNDING"