My kid is finishing off her first ever playoffs this weekend in basketball. So, you can imagine where my head is at. But all that just made me think how much we can learn from sports, life, and trying to help others keep up their mental game.

What are the obvious concerns? Losing. Everyone of course wants to always win. One of the biggest obstacles is teams that are better, either they’ve beaten you before or have a better record. We’ve all lost trades before. How does each loss shape our thoughts going into the next trade? What do we have to know going into the next? We have to know it’s possible to win. If it’s possible to win, we will put thought, effort, and time into the goal. If we think it’s impossible, we’ve already given up before we’ve even started.

What about being overconfident? Thinking we can’t lose? That makes us too relaxed, we don’t try as hard, we start to be a little less aggressive on offense (letting our winners run) and a little lax on defense (trading without stops).

The healthy spot is actually in the middle. Confident in our abilities to play both offense, and defense, but knowing that it is our vigilance and our constant and concerted effort that will eventually give us the best result.

Offense wins games. Defense wins tournaments. I have never seen a better example of this than the placement for the semi-finals today. Why? There are 8 teams in a round robin style. Obviously, you will have some teams with 2 wins, and more than likely teams with 1 win battling it out for spots in the semi-finals. The tie breaker for this, is points against. What does that mean? It means that you can win a game by A LOT, but if you give up a lot of baskets against you, you may not make it. This happened to the team in 5th place. They had one blowout game where they won 39-17. But the other, they lost 16-12. Those 33 points against them ended up finding them in 5th place, since the team that came in fourth had fewer points against.

Making huge gains is one thing, we’ve seen the pattern over and over again. But the types of traders who have longevity, are either the ones who hit it hard to make the gains in a favorable environment, but also know how to keep those gains when it’s not, or the ones who know how to make small consistent gains without suffering huge drawdowns. The large drawdowns are incredibly demoralizing and can definitely affect your ability to stay in the game a long time.

Each game we play, each trade we take, we can win or lose. Whether we win or lose, does not define our entire career. But the lessons we learn, the discipline we use, the mental game we improve - that will give us the edge to win in the future.

At the end of the day, I told my daughter this: If you win, you will love it, and want to work harder so it can happen again. If you lose, you won’t like it and you will want to work harder so that next time you can win. Either way, you’ll get better at playing.