low angle photo of man playing basketball

Are You Playing Offense or Defense? 4 Steps to Play Offense With Your Life

Sports is a mirror of life.

In 2016, the City of Cleveland damn near burned to the ground. It was the NBA finals and in a championship-starved city like Cleveland, winning was rarer than steak ordered up by a cannibal.

But miraculously, the Cavaliers were in a position to do the impossible, win.

 They had come back from being down 3–1 to tie the series only to encounter one goliath of a problem: The Golden State Warriors.

At a record-setting 73 wins the Warriors lived up to their name. Led by the greatest, take-this-shot-to-save-the-world-shooter of all time, Steph Curry, this squad was expected to win, but something was different that day. The difference between playing to win vs playing not to lose.

The Cavs led by some guy named Lebron James were going for broke. They played to win. They had to, they were underdogs on the road playing in front of the most ̶a̶n̶n̶o̶y̶i̶n̶g̶ dedicated fans in the NBA. So they played with a sense of urgency. Their focus was on scoring, pushing the pace, taking calculated risks, and umm winning.

On the other hand, the Golden State Warriors, despite their historic regular-season success, seemed to be cautious and hesitant in Game 7.

They struggled to find their usual offensive rhythm and were plagued by turnovers and missed opportunities. As the defending champions, they were burdened with the pressure of maintaining their legacy and the expectations of breaking the regular season wins record. 

They weren’t playing to win but playing not to lose. And the result? Well, the rest is history. The Warriors blew a 3–1 lead.

So what does this all mean? Well… are you playing offense or defense with your life

Recently I had a talk with one of my mentors about this topic. Are you playing to win? Or are you playing not to lose?

And it dawned on me that I’d been playing not to lose rather than playing to win. But guess what? I’m changing that, and here are four life-altering shifts that might make you rethink your stance as well.

1. Take The Lead

Picture this: you’re at a party, standing by the punch bowl, hoping your dream connection might get a little thirsty. That’s how you’ll meet the right people, playing it safe by the snacks right? News flash — life isn’t going to tap you on the shoulder and ask you to dance; it’s on you to tap first.

If you want to connect, be it in relationships or professional endeavors, you’ve got to step up and take the lead. Life is all about seizing opportunities, not waiting for them to knock on your door like a stoned pizza delivery guy. So take the lead and start introducing yourself be it online in a friendly comment, a cold email, or in person. Simply put, stop waiting for things to come to you and start taking the lead.

2. Right Place. Right Damn Time.

Success isn’t just about luck; it’s about positioning yourself where the action at is like a pit crew in a fiery NASCAR crash. Surround yourself with people who lift you higher, attend industry events with your contemporaries, and chase opportunities that make your heart race. More than half of success is showing up, so hold up your end of the bargain and show up. You’re not the fruit-punch-person anymore remember?

The reality is this, if people don’t know who you are, it’s unlikely for them to offer the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities you’re looking for. You need to be in the world you want to play in. So be there… the beauty about today is that it’s easier than ever before.

3. Master Your Craft

Mastery might sound like an unattainable goal because even Socrates had his “I’m-still-figuring-this-out” moments. Yet, there’s nothing like the confidence that comes from being damn good at what you do. Whether you’re an artist, an accountant, or a doughnut-guzzling truck driver, owning your craft is like having a deadly Swiss Army knife of skills that doesn’t break.

When you play offense, you’ve got to bring your A-game, make those shots, and show people that you’re no one-hit wonder. Because when you meet people and they finally give you a chance, you don’t want to blow it. It’s like offering to buy someone a steak dinner and showing up with McDonald’s. It’s the kind of letdown nobody forgets. So master your craft, because when your time comes, you’ll deliver. 

4. Play To Win

Think about those things you could do that would practically guarantee you a victory. Like reaching out to the right people, engaging with them, showcasing your abilities, and building the habits that support your goals. Now, imagine doing those things over and over again. It’s like having a cheat code for life.

The trick is to focus on your strengths and capitalize on them relentlessly. If you’ve got a hand that’s nearly unbeatable, play it. Because when you’re confident in your moves, losing becomes a distant memory.

So, are you ready to step out of the sidelines and onto the field? It’s time to swap that defensive playbook for an offensive strategy. 

Life’s too short to hang around, hoping things will magically change without doing anything different. So take the lead, plant yourself where you’ll thrive, master your craft, and build an anti-losing arsenal that’ll have you wondering why you ever played defense in the first place. 


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12 thoughts on “Are You Playing Offense or Defense? 4 Steps to Play Offense With Your Life

  1. I’m loving the points in this post, it’s this kind of writing that can inspire people to take those first steps or get back on track if a bump in the road has been hit. The blog post equivalent of surrounding yourself with positive people 👌

  2. Love these and I would also add, never neglect the rebound. If our first effort is not a “slam dunk” we have to be prepared to immediately go up again.

  3. This is great! I never thought about how I’ve been living my life in this way. Never considered that I have been living not to lose. Wow! It’s definitely time that I start living to win. Thank you! I needed this!

  4. I really enjoyed this post. It is very inspirational. Even though I know virtually nothing about NBA or NASCAR, I understood the analogies. Very well written and thought out. Excellent. … Now, time for me to step away from the punch bowl … scary! LOL.

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