Brain Food #570

The journey is long

Thoughts of the day

Today is Michael Jordan’s 58th birthday. Despite his controversial leadership style, Jordan is widely recognised as one of the greatest athletes of all time, pushing himself mentally and physically to stretch his limits, and to keep achieving the unachievable.

His fierce talent may have given him a head start, and he may have been lucky to discover what that talent was early on (could there be someone sitting in an office reading this right now, who could have been a swimming champion?) but Jordan frequently reminds others, and himself, that mindset is the fuel that leads to the trophy.

Hard work trumps genes, and having a growth mindset, to view every obstacle and unknown as an opportunity, not a threat, is often what characterises great success stories.

Jordan was initially rejected from his high school basketball team. He turned this failure into motivation:

“It was embarrassing not making that team. They posted the roster and it was there for a long, long time without my name on it. I remember being really mad too, because there was a guy that made it that really wasn’t as good as me. Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it… that usually got me going again.

When your name means nothing, self-belief becomes beyond essential. The journey is long, but the days are short. Every day is an opportunity to grow. The moment we stop growing, whether due to an internal or external obstacle, is the moment we decide to determine our own limits, choosing to listen to the voices in our heads, the echoes of a noticeboard from school that didn’t have our name on it, an email we received that didn’t give us the news we wanted, someone we admired that told us we weren’t good enough.

Winning is not about always being successful; winning is about going to bed at night knowing that at least you tried: “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.”


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