I’m not a Lebron fan. But anyone who’s a fan of the game of basketball would appreciate how history was made last month. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the championship for the first time in over fifty years, and they did it in an unprecedented manner.
Go Warriors! Beat the Cavs! Go Cavs! Beat the Warriors! Go, Curry, beat Lebron! Go, Lebron, beat Curry! #SpursNation
— Joseph Bonifacio (@josephbonifacio) June 14, 2016
It isn’t just basketball fans who can pick something up from the sport. Here are three leadership lessons that can serve as a reminder for anyone who wants to do something significant.
1. You can’t lead by momentum.
No team entered the NBA Playoffs with more momentum than the Golden State Warriors. They broke the regular season record for number of wins. Despite a challenging round against the Oklahoma Thunder, they bulldozed right through the Cavs in the first two games. The Finals seemed over right then. But then they faltered and lost, showing us that all the momentum in the world can’t win the championship for you.
Leadership works the same way. All the momentum in the world isn’t enough to achieve greatness. Momentum helps, but it can’t take the place of discipline, hard work, perseverance, and discerning what God is doing at the present. People who have momentum going for them must not relax. People who have momentum going against them can be encouraged that they can still overcome.
2. You can’t lead through statistics.
The other thing going against the Cavs were the statistics. The Golden State Warriors were having a record-breaking season. Their stars were having record-breaking seasons. And the most immovable statistic of all was against them: No one had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.
But there’s always a first time. And this year was that first time.
Statistics don’t win championships. Statistics tell what’s most likely to happen, not what will happen. Leaders can change statistics. Maybe you’ve had these thoughts before:
“No one from my family has every finished college.”
“This campus has never had a big campus ministry.”
“No Filipino has ever done that.”
“No one so young has ever succeeded at this thing.”
That may be what the statistics say, but maybe this is your breakthrough moment. Try anyway.
3. You can’t lead from public opinion.
When the Warriors won Games 1 and 2 quickly, many people rushed to proclaim the Cavaliers defeated. There are too many examples of this, so I’ll just use the social media of one particularly ignorant and mocking spectator.
Dear Cleveland, this Finals doesn’t look good if you’re losing WHILE Curry and Thompson are on the bench.
— Joseph Bonifacio (@josephbonifacio) June 3, 2016
Amazingly, the Cavaliers were unfazed by this devastating tweet from a thirty-three year old casual fan. And they fought through all the negative opinions to win the championship.
On the other hand, it seemed like the Golden State Warriors believed some of hype about them: “the greatest team ever.” Their own team owner bragged about how their front office was “light years ahead” of the other teams in the league. It was almost cinematic to see them fail to reach their ultimate goal after such a boast like that.
At the end of the day, their victory couldn’t lie in the external factors – not momentum, not statistics, not public opinion. It came down to having the will to win. Lebron stepped up his game the Cavs are the new champions.
So this is a warning and an encouragement to all of us.
To those who have all the momentum going for them, who can predict their victories based on the statistics, who have all the support of public opinion – don’t relax. Don’t coast. Stay hungry. Because all the momentum in the world cannot take the place of discipline, hard work, and Holy Spirit power.
And to those who seem to have everything going against them, who seem to be aiming for statistical and physical impossibilities, who have everyone saying they can’t make it – don’t give up. This might be the time that you defy all the odds and win.