It all started with the Cleveland Cavaliers. When LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to “comeback” from a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. They were able to win the final three games of the series over the 73-win Warriors thanks to a streak of superiority from one of the NBA’s greatest players, Kyrie Irving when he hit the three of his life to give the Cavaliers their stunning final win.
Next came the Chicago Cubs. Less than 12 percent of teams trailing three-games-to-one in a best-of-seven World Series have come back to win, and none since the Kansas City Royals accomplished the feat in 1985. Game 7 of a series in any sport is significant, but this was more than a baseball game to Cubs fans. This win ended more than a century of frustration as the Cubs won their first championship since 1908, ending the longest drought in professional sports.
And just a few weeks ago, Super Bowl LI will go down as one of the best title games in NFL history. The New England Patriots overcame a 25-point third-quarter deficit to knock off the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in the first-ever overtime Super Bowl. That is the greatest comeback in recent memory.
And mysteriously, all three comebacks are in someway tied together. As a mental performance coach for over 30 years, I’ve seen how the subconscious mind works in patterns. This is something I have been studying for years.
For example, Sir Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. Up until he did that for the first time back in 1954, most people thought the four-minute mark was impossible to break. They thought the human body couldn’t physically go that fast, and that it would collapse under the pressure. But isn’t it curious that after Roger broke that 4-minute barrier, many other runners have gone on to break the 4-minute mile? In fact, in the very next race another runner broke it for himself.
Recently we had an exceptional woman go through our “Beast Mode ON 30-Day Challenge.” In fact, she was the first woman ever to make it through one of the toughest challenges of becoming an Army Ranger. Keeping with this evidence of patterns, shortly after she made it through, two more women also made it through and achieved Ranger status as well.
If we are able to train the subconscious mind to believe it is possible, then at that moment when you are ready to quit and give in to those limitations, the memory of possibility kicks in. If you have prepared yourself and gone beyond in your workouts leading up to these defining moments, then there is an opportunity for those thoughts to collide, and it is “game on.” Preparation truly meets opportunity and it can happen in an instant. And, when it does, you can see the momentum swing before your very eyes.
Back when I was competing on the professional tennis tour, I was playing a match against the number 1 ranked player from China. None of us had ever seen him play before, but this was 1978 and it was the first time China had decided to send their top five players to this U.S. tournament. He won the first set 6-2 and was totally dominating me. The second set was no different, but as he was serving for the match at 5 -2, I miss hit a return and the ball went wildly into the stands. When I looked up it just missed hitting this good-looking gal in the face. I stood there stunned. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. It was like everything stopped in that moment. At the time, I was going through a very difficult divorce and was probably bringing that losing mentality or feeling to this match. Somehow, in that moment I was given hope that a new beginning was possible. All of my hard work and preparation met with the excitement of possibility and new beginnings. I went on to not lose another game and won the match 2-6, 7-5, 6-0. That was my own personal comeback story.
Now, most pro athletes are fans of other sports just like you, and any of the Cubs and Patriots players were watching that NBA Finals Game #7 where Cleveland made history. So whether or not they consciously remembered that comeback or the memory was just stored in their subconscious mind. The subconscious mind needs that deeper belief system that something is actually possible in those pressure situations. So when Tom Brady is walking down the sideline yelling, “This is going to be a great comeback” there is a belief triggered and the focus goes to that possibility, rather than “Oh, I guess we just weren’t good enough.”
This is why visualizing your success in advance is so effective. Your subconscious mind can then believe the impossible is possible, and then when you need that deep belief the most, it is there to support you in your endeavors. Most of the work I do with my clients is developing that deeper belief system that supports success rather than distracting us away from it. By strengthening our core beliefs, we then have the same opportunity to have “preparation meet opportunity” and thereby make great comebacks for ourselves within our own lives. What possibilities lie in your future?
Dave Austin is co-author of the #1 International Bestseller “Be A Beast: Unleash Your Animal Instincts for Performance Driven Results” and founder of Extreme Focus.