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What We Can Learn From The March Madness Underdogs Who Prevailed

What We Can Learn From The March Madness Underdogs Who Prevailed

Dr. Jason Selk is considered one of the premier performance coaches in the United States. He helps numerous well-known professionals, ranging from Olympic athletes to Fortune 100 executives, develop the mental toughness necessary for high-level success. In this article for, Dr. Selk examines how underdog teams, like those who are turning heads during this year’s NCAA March Madness, can find success with the right attitude:

When March Madness teams Mercer, Dayton, and Cal Poly upset their top-seeded rivals, many people scratched their heads. How could this happen?

All of these teams worked together as a unit, they stayed upbeat, and they believed they could do it–despite the bookmakers giving them short odds.

Here are some valuable life and business lessons we can all learn from underdog teams.

Excellence Comes From Solution Focus.

We humans are better at seeing problems than we are at seeing solutions. This itself is a problem, becausewhat we dwell on expands.

Imagine if these young basketball players had focused on the big problem before them, namely: “Our opponents are the favorites, and they have a better record than we do.” That’s called problem focus–focusing on the obstacle.

To tackle a formidable opponent or problem, you need to focus on the solution. Keep your thoughts centered on what you want and what it will take to achieve what you want, as opposed to allowing thoughts of self-doubt and concern to occupy your mind.

When working toward a common goal, we need to surround ourselves with people who want to scale to the same heights as we do. If you commune with people who are goal driven and who emphasize solutions, it’s easier to internalize the positive thinking to which you’re exposed.

People tend to take on the attitudes and actions of the individuals in their circle. If you habitually conduct yourself with a solution focus, those around you will start to follow your model.

Developing positive team chemistry can be boiled down to one directive: challenge each member to develop a relentless solution focus. That’s the attitude you want to spread.

Working On Oneself Is Also “Teamwork.”

It’s natural for individuals to work against themselves and each other. When we feed into our own problems, it weakens the group.

If winning appeals to you, then play your part by taking a relentless approach to becoming and staying solution focused. Get into the habit of asking yourself and team members: “What is the one thing we can do that could make this better?” Pose the question often enough that your team becomes adept at fielding it and tossing it around.

Team chemistry is simply how members of a team interact with one another. Positive team chemistry is characterized by individuals working together in a way that produces a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Hooray for the March Madness underdogs. They inspire us all to achieve more than we thought possible. Or rather, they inspire us to think about more that IS possible.

Dr. Jason Selk /