This is one of my favourite quotes from Michael Jordan (which I have to admit is basically all of them) but it was playing in a basketball game against at my high school against an Elite Basketball School from Denmark yesterday that made me instantly think of this quote.
Throughout high school I was obsessed about being known as an amazing basketball player, that would go on to be the star for an NCAA division IVY League basketball team. I was no way a selfish player or a prima dona. First and foremost I wanted our team to win championships. However, I also wanted all the accolades, and attention to come along with it. I wanted my cake and to eat it too.
However, the harder I tried to “be successful” and fulfill myself through my accomplishments the more they seemed to slip away through my fingers. Not to mention it was the least enjoyable time of my life. Even though I had achieved substantial success, I was inordinately self-conscious and anxious because I had based my entire self-concept on my basketball skills and ability. If I had a great game if I felt on top of the world, but when I played bad I felt worthless.
This whole process continued on throughout my basketball career until the fateful day in which I was cut from Boston University’s Men’s Basketball Team. It was absolutely heart-breaking. I felt like who I was had died. I walked around campus like a ghost. I was feeling a mixture of intense sadness and anger (the video below encapsulates my feelings at that time well). I could not understand how I could fail even though I worked so hard and it wanted it so bad. However, that is exactly why I failed.
I wanted it too bad, and I was constantly ignoring the beauty of the present moment (which is life itself!) and projecting myself forward to a future point in time in which I would inhabit a perfect stress free world because I was a NCAA division 1 basketball player. It is comical what I used to think as a teenager.
After I got cut I felt so embarrassed that I essentially removed myself from almost every connection with the basketball community I had (which were numerous) and stopped playing basketball (which is what I love to do the most). However, after years the orange round ball kept calling me back and I couldn’t resist.
The game yesterday perfectly encapsulates the quote above. Even though I was super sore from a very hard track workout I had done the day before, I was throwing down the classic one hand Lebron-esque dunk. I love that dunk because you can really crank it back hard and slam it hard. The crowd loved it. This was something that always eluded me back in my high school days. I got to the game and things just flowed effortlessly. It was like I was watching a movie. I knew what to do but it was as if something was flowing through me and executing the movements effortlessly.
In addition, yesterday may have been one of the most enjoyable times I have had while playing basketball. I had absolutely zero expectation about my performance. I was not out there to prove something to someone. I was just so happy to be able to play once again with my high school teammates. Obviously I have worked extremely hard over the years to prepare my body, but the primary reason for my success is my ability to live in the moment and embrace the current moment no matter what shape it may take. I used to always scowl at the refs when they called a foul on me, and now I was just joking around with them.
As mentioned in a previous post (Read More: Mindfulness in Motion) this state of intense presence is the most important aspect of excellence in any field. But how do you develop the mental tools to remain in this moment? I am sure you can guess what I am going to say, but yes it is meditation!
I just want to clear one common misconception right off the bat. Meditation does not require you becoming a celibate monk, leaving your current life and going to a monastery where you sit in the lotus position for hours on end. Meditation, is simply the act of focusing your attention completely on something here and now. They are countless ways to do this, and in an upcoming free e-book I will guide you on the best way to foray into the vast field of meditation.
Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,
PS Here are a few ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.