Why You Lose Motivation & Confidence
Whether you want to become a pro player, get a job in esports or even start your own esports business, you will inevitably have moments where you feel completely defeated. Whether it’s from getting kicked off a team, losing an important tournament, failing to get hired or seeing your business hit obstacle after obstacle, you’ll get thrown into situations where you question if esports is really for you.
The unfortunate truth is that many people who end up in these situations quickly lose motivation and confidence. Even if they persevere, they do so with less energy and drive. Then as more problems come up, they start to see quitting as an increasingly better option. Think of it like a health bar but for motivation, and with every failure and mistake it gets drained more and more until it is completely depleted.
But those who are most successful in esports have the opposite reaction. They struggle with great problems and experience setbacks that make them question their career, yet come out of it more motivated to succeed. Each failure seems to add to their motivation bar until its maxed out. So what kind of mindset do they have, and how can you gain it?
Well, there’s no one better to learn it from than Jason Lake, an esports Veteran who has demonstrated immense perseverance as he pushed through some of the most dire situations in esports history, and in doing so successfully built Complexity gaming into one of the most popular organizations in the world. From his personal experience and his time working closely with hundreds of pro players, Jason was able to teach me the mindset necessary if you want to make it in esports, the mindset that you will need to develop if you’re going to succeed.
Perseverance (And Post Traumatic Growth)
Imagine for a moment that you went all-in on esports, that you made great sacrifices, gave up other opportunities, and put it all on the line for your true passion. But then imagine it all came crashing down…
BRAEDEN: But briefly, you know what was perhaps one of the hardest parts of your career and what do you think was the mindset that helped you get through it?
JASON: In 2008 i sold my law firm decided to go all in on esports. I moved my family from atlanta to los angeles to film the second season of the championship gaming series on directv.
And we did that. We were settling into LA and then that summer the economy completely tanked.
And that november, early november they announced that they canceled the league.
So now i found myself in california where i wasn’t licensed to practice law i had sold by law firm and now the esports company i worked for was out of business.
So i was like unemployed for the first time my adult life. And now i had two kids and a wife and i’m like man this is not a good spot.
Against the advice of many awesome people who love me very much i decided to restart complexity and they’re like just walk away from it you know go get another real job and uh you got bills to pay you got two kids and a wife. But i restarted complexity anyway.
And i think people that are successful in life quite often have this tenacity, they have a perseverance.
When things go wrong, you can either let it drain you of your confidence and motivation or you can deal with it in a way that fuels you towards growth. But most people don’t realize they have an option.
In fact, you are likely familiar with the term post-traumatic stress when someone continues to feel negative emotions towards a problematic event, even after resolving it. But you are likely less familiar with the term post-traumatic growth. This occurs when someone endures a challenging life experience and is positively changed from it. An extreme example maybe someone who fights a life-threatening illness and comes out the other end with a greater appreciation for everything and everyone around them. Of course, when your career in esports is on the line, it won’t be as extreme, but the idea still stands. When things go wrong, and you endure the greatest adversities you can actually use the experience to change in a positive way.
Knowing this is a major first step. Since we often embrace setbacks with the mindset of helplessness, every issue, whether small or large, seems to take away a sense of our confidence and drive. But knowing that it’s possible to find growth and gratitude after a significant loss or failure can help you reframe it in your mind.
One of the best demonstrations of this mindset comes from the famous Japanese Samurai Miyamoto Musashi. When visiting a temple, rather than praying for safety and an easy journey, he would instead pray for hardship, wishing to be tested and challenged to improve his mental strength.
But enduring hardship and knowing that mental growth is possible is just the first step. To claim that growth, you need to have the proper mental preparation…
JASON: There’s one thing you can count on, life is gonna kick you in the stomach, multiple times.
You have to be prepared for that, you have to decide in advance, how am i going to respond when life kicks me hard right in the stomach and I can’t breathe im panicking and i don’t know what i’m going to do.
And if you prepare your mindset in advance for that and already have been practicing and reinforcing how you’re going to react to difficult circumstances when they happen you’re like – this sucks but i knew something like this was coming and i’ve already prepared how i’m going to plan how i’m going to react.
I’m not gonna go hide in the closet and cry the rest of my life, i’m gonna shed my tears i’m gonna put them behind me i’m gonna go back out and kick ass.
You gotta claw in this life, you gotta fight in this life, you gotta battle in this life, life is a battle.
And if you understand that and have that type of mindset, nothing’s going to be able to keep you down for long.
If you’ve got you’ve got faith you’ve got perseverance you’ve got strength and you’ve got mental preparation nothing will keep you down for too long and i think that’s the key to being successful.
If you study successful people that have changed the world, none of them had a cakewalk none of them had an easy path they all got kicked in the stomach some of them multiple times and always managed to bounce back and and amaze people once again.
And i think that’s a mindset you have to have if uh success and and those things are important to you.
And uh anyone that you know, especially young people that have maybe been blessed with a comfortable a good life, if you’re not preparing yourself to get to get kicked in the stomach, if you’re not like I said earlier, playing chess instead of checkers, if you’re not looking down the corridor of time and playing game theory, a lot of things could go wrong, here’s how i’m going to react, here’s how i’ve done playing that through in your mind you’re setting yourself up uh for battle.
Being mentally prepared means accepting that things can go wrong rather than hiding from and letting unrealistic expectations shatter under the weight of reality.
The famous stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius famously wrote: “Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. …” – in this recommendation, he is not being pessimistic and trying to see the world as a more negative place than it is. Instead, he is preparing himself for the negative things that could happen so that he doesn’t react emotionally when things get hard.
By recognizing the likely difficulties ahead and preparing for them mentally, we can be far more resilient when they come and already have a plan for how we will react.
In other words, by preparing mentally, we gain the ability to brace for impact before things go wrong, thus taking away much of the negative power and surprise that comes from setbacks.
Optimism & Self-Talk
But this leads us to one of the biggest keys to controlling your mindset.
JASON: You always want to stay optimistic. Self-talk is a very powerful thing, you have to always stay optimistic and and and positive, you can never extinguish the hope that you have within you.
But you can’t be all you know all roses and tulips and flower, like you have to understand, life’s gonna kick me but i’m gonna stay positive i’m gonna stay resilient, i’m gonna fight, i’m gonna claw and no matter what it takes.
And if you’re having self-talk in your head or you’re like oh ‘you’re stupid, oh you’re never going to make it, oh you’re a failure’ you’ve already lost period.
You got to start with how you talk to yourself, maintaining your optimism and then preparing for for the inevitable difficult times I think that you’re gonna run into in the future.
Optimism is not about painting a fake picture of reality; it’s about choosing which reality to see, like an optical illusion.
Consider an optical illusion like the famous image called “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law.” At first, you may see either the older women or young women, but you suddenly recognize the other image if you look at it correctly. It might take a little time to see it, but once you do, you’ll be able to recognize both in an instant.
This is not unlike reality. In many situations, we first see a negative reality, whether that’s getting deranked, or failing to land a significant opportunity. But when we apply a bit of effort, we begin to see the reality that is equally real, just a bit harder to recognize. Suddenly you’ll notice the motivation to train your skills more to reclaim your rank and have learned lessons from the losing match, or you realize that an even greater opportunity exists if you work a bit harder. Fortunately, once you see the second reality, it’s like the optical illusion; it becomes hard to unsee.
So, recognize when a negative mindset or self-talk comes up and replace it with a different perspective. Rather than saying “Oh, I suck,” notice and opportunity for growth, “Oh, I need to practice my tracking skills,” rather than “I hate my teammates for not trying,” consider asking yourself, “How can I motivate my team better?”, or even “how can I improve my defensive skills, knowing my team can’t help me?” Again the key to better self-talk isn’t about faking positivity; it’s about changing the perspective from complaining to taking control and constantly seeking new growth opportunities.
Process / Solution
So let’s put this together. When you encounter a significant setback, how should you handle it?
The first step is accepting you will end up in bad situations, where you will begin to question your path. Acceptance that bad things will happen is the position from which you can take action. If you resist it and pretend everything will always be ok, life’s difficulties will hit much harder.
Second, make the situation objective. When everything seems to fall apart, your career as an esports player is in jeopardy as you get kicked off a team, or your startup suddenly needs more money to stay afloat, it will feel like the worst-case scenario. But is it really? To make this more objective, create a scale of 1-10 and place this situation on it. If 1 is nothing, and 10 is something permanently life-changing, or perhaps death itself, where does this situation fall on that scale? Doing this thought experiment will help you realize how many things that feel like a 9 or 10 are more like a 3 or 4 and will hardly affect your overall life.
Third, recognize the timeline. When we experience negative situations, our minds make us feel that the problem and its consequences will last forever. So reconnect with your sense of time and recognize how long it will take to recover from the situation. Perhaps it will take three days of focused effort to regain your rank or two months to recover from a setback in your business. Either way recognizing a realistic timeline will help.
And as a bonus, continue to monitor your self-talk and switch negative complaining self-talk into a new self-talk of self-empowerment, recognizing opportunities for growth and taking control of the situations.
In an industry as competitive as esports, you need to have a strong mindset. Setbacks, challenges, failures will all come your way. But rather than resisting them or letting them sap away your motivation, you should expect them and use them in your favour to build your mental resilience.
When you take on the advice mentioned in this video you’ll slowly begin to push through setbacks easier and easier. This is what it feels like to develop mental resilience, the key to perseverance and success, not only in esports, but in every area of your life.
So take on the mindset of the Samurai Musashi; rather than wishing for an easy path, begin to wish for and embrace adversity, then use that adversity to get stronger and stronger until you finally achieve success in esports.