Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Conflict makes a story better

I may have jinxed the Miami Heat. I didn’t mean to and I feel bad about it. I was actually rooting for them to win the championship. My wife and I were following the series like mad, hoping that they would pull it off. I wanted Bron Bron to win a ring. I wanted to see him hoist the trophy high into the air. I wanted Dan Gilbert to be speechless. But winning championships is not easy work.

The jinx came a few days ago, right before game five. I was thinking about the drama of Lebron leaving Cleveland and how he became this villain character and how everyone hated him and then he wound up in the Finals (something his team wasn’t expected to do until a year or two later.) This is where I jinxed it. I told my wife that Lebron leaving Cleveland and then the next year winning a championship didn’t seem like a good story. It was sort of the antithesis of hard work and perseverance. I’m not saying that the Heat didn’t work hard this year. They did. They had an incredible season. I started thinking, though, that the team hadn’t struggled enough to win it all. Sometimes in order to win, you have to lose first. Motivation comes from almost achieving your goal and then falling short. It then makes the time you do win that much sweeter.

I was thinking about Lebron and the Heat and the fact that they hadn’t dealt with enough pain and heartache to win a championship. And then the clock ran out in Miami in game six with a 7 foot German holding his first championship and the MVP of the Finals trophy. And Lebron’s critics flooded the social media scene with posts and tweets. “He’s no MJ.” “He is not as good as Kobe.” “He can’t make change for a dollar because he doesn’t have a fourth quarter.” The funny thing was that most of it was spot on criticism. He didn’t show up to play in the last three games of the series. It was an accurate description of how poorly he played. Yes, the team failed, but so did Lebron. And eventually, if he can return and rise above the criticism, it will make for a good story.

The only way critics are silenced is with action. The only way dreams are achieved is when you work long enough and hard enough to see them unfold. Lebron has a lot to work on to improve his game. He may even have to change the way he plays in order to help his team win. A better story than winning a championship your first year with a new team is losing it, and coming back in the future, ready to achieve what you couldn’t before.

Conflict in a story and in our lives is necessary. Conflict shapes characters and people. It forces someone to persevere. It also puts things in perspective. Furthermore, when people have to work hard for something it calls out the best in them. A relationship will have a better foundation if there is a conflict a couple must work through and overcome. Graduating from school is that much more meaningful when you shed a little blood, sweat and tears along the way. Our careers take on new meaning when we face adversity and hardship, and find a way to succeed even if those around us desire us to fail. Conflict makes a story better.

I’m not sure what is next for Lebron and the Heat. Perhaps they will add another team member to their squad and become “The Big Four.” Perhaps Heat owner, Pat Riley, will reveal his slicked back hair is actually the world’s most massive comb over. I’m not sure. I imagine, though, that the pain of not winning a championship will add some fuel to the fire. A team that appeared destined to win and didn’t, will have to start all over again. And the conflict will make the team better. It might even propel them to win a championship in the future.

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