In our previous look at the concept of mental resilience, we discussed the basics, aimed at helping you set reasonable expectations, and get reasonable results. In this article I’m going to continue that trend, by repeating a cold fact from the last one.
Success isn’t earned, it’s leased. And rent is due, every single day. Take a moment to re-read the first post, keeping in mind that we aren’t born with resiliency, rather it’s created.
Brave New World:
We live in a new era, not just in the realm of Esports, but all walks of modern life. Navigating the complexities of an increasingly bizarre culture, and ever changing social landscape gets harder by the day. As competitors we’re caught smack-dab in the middle of a culture war; the emotional stability and mental toughness needed to shine is directly at odds with the trendy idea that these same traits have become toxic.
While Free Agency Esports stays away from politics, we feel this is significant, since serious gamers are at ground zero.
The prize pools are getting bigger, the recognition wider, and the spotlight is always on. As competitors and personalities every action is scrutinized, every reaction politicized one way or another, and everyone seems to have an opinion. No matter where you are in the mix, learning how to stay cool, calm, and collected; to stay in control of yourself is key.
Let this post serve as a guide, and a jumping off point.
You’ve heard this time and time again from us, but if you don’t have a reason for playing, you’re just wasting time. Not the people who play “to have fun”, whatever that means in the moment, no this article isn’t for them. This is for the competitor who wants to stand tall when things are at their worst.
If you haven’t yet, then you need to take a second and ask a difficult question… Why am I here?
Seriously, take a few moments to think on it, and write down your answers. Put them away for a few minutes, and take a good, hard look. Be honest and scratch out the ones that are obviously baloney, and you’re left with the truth.
– To be the best player in your region, or scene.
– To get out of pools
– Get top 10 NA in matchmaking
– Stop losing to Grand Champion Rook mains 🙁
Once you have an idea of what your purpose is, the next step is to start living it, and not just paying lip service to the ideas behind it. Don’t just play to play, play with your objectives, and your best interests in mind. This way, when it gets tough, you’ll have a foundation to fall back on. If it helps, treat your purpose as a well, or fountain where you draw energies, inspiration, and motivation from.
Took a bad loss? go drink from the well. Tired of the meta? go drink from the well. Worn down from the grind? You get the picture. From time to time, you’ll have to see if the water is still clean, or if its getting a little low, and refill it. But no matter what, that well, your purpose, your reason, its always there.
The stoic approach:
The age old question.
Is it better to bottle up you’re emotions, or wear your heart on your sleeve? Should you hold it in, or hug it out? While there isn’t any one size fits all answer, a decades worth of competitive experience says neither.
In truth, I’ve found the best approach is somewhere in the middle, and while neither is best, competition and competitive environments demand a firm balance from each. With that in mind, just how much is too much?
As each individual’s goal varies, as does their amount of life experience, and socialization, I can’t tell you exactly. But I can share some of the strategies I’ve picked up over the years.
Take it from me, because this is a lesson I wish I’d learned years ago. If you’re a competitor, and you’re really serious about making it, and toeing that line between dedication, and obsession, then listen good.
The game will not save you.
Let that sink in. Above all else, more important than just about anything we’ve ever wrote, heed those words. The game alone won’t save you. The grind won’t save you, the pursuit won’t save you, and the money won’t save you.
If you want to succeed long term, then you’ll need to work on a life outside game, and if we’re talking turkey, then that means you’ll need outlets. Real outlets.
Nowadays, this can be a double edged sword, since there are so many ways to express yourself in the age of smart phones. The majority of people will fall into the category of having bad outlets, meaning ways of expressing and picking apart stress, and grief in a way that leaves them no better off than when they started. People are way to quick to turn those trigger fingers, into twitter fingers if you know what I mean, and they’re way too comfortable doing so. Since they have an audience around the clock, who are more than happy to stir sh*t up, or give sympathy and platitudes, why not right?
But what does that accomplish really? Outside of that moment, how does that help you do better next time?
I understand the pain and anguish that comes from tough losses, of getting the boot from your team, and the crushing feeling of flying across the country only to lose to nobodies. Really I do, but taking to social media to whine about it only makes you look bad in the eyes of the people who matter.
Social Media Strategies:
Remember you’re a reflection of your own brand, and what you do, and what you say can have huge implications to your career. So watch yourself, watch what you post, and when you react, and do your best to eliminate the following:
-Airing other players dirty laundry
-Pretending to be hard
-Speaking from a position of insecurity
Do yourself a favor, and try and organically do the following instead:
-Be humble in victory, and defeat. Even if you’re the local villain, that’s mostly just banter, and no one likes an asshole.
-Be sportsmanlike outside of the game
-Give constructive feedback to Devs, TOs, and other players in a tactful way. Even better if you handle it in private. There’s a lot less likes involved, but you’re the ambassador to your brand remember.
Now I’m not saying you can’t talk about things that weigh on you, or engage with your community in any kind of way, but I am saying you need to determine if you’re just venting, or if you’re looking for feedback. If you’re just trying to blow off steam, pick up a pen and paper, or hop on the notepad app on your phone, and just let it all out. Seriously, let it all go, and hold nothing back. Every dirty word, every stupid play, every time you or a teammate threw all of it. And a few hours later, give it a read, and throw it in the trash.
You’ll feel a whole lot better, and you’ll look a lot less butthurt.
The benefits are well explained elsewhere, but hitting the gym, the court, or your local park for even half an hour a day can wreak tremendous benefits to your mental and physical well being. It can help you focus, de-stress, de-clutter, and de-compress. You could do a whole lot worse as far as outlets go.
Taking Reasonable Breaks:
This one might be a little less obvious to some, but going 100% all the time, even if you’re smart, will mess you up real bad. It’s essential you take the time away to engage with your community, see your friends and family, engage in your hobbies that aren’t video games, and take some well deserved rest and relaxation. Just as in the strength game, some time off only serves to reinforce the good from all that heavy training, ensuring you come back stronger, and more explosive than before.
Go ahead and give these things a go. They keys, like always, are consistency and practice. Next time we take a look into resilience, I’ll touch on a few other key factors such as nutrition, meditation, self talk, and some further reading for the truly dedicated.