Today, leadership from Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Yes, superstars. Yes, athletes. And yes, yes, they are relevant for you and me, everyday leaders.
Kobe and MJ exemplify the third and fourth keys in this mini-series of thoughts for those who have a big goal which at times, perhaps most of the time, seems unachievable. Last week I wrote about the importance of protecting the vision in your heart and intention, no matter the reality; and I wrote of the importance of savoring the small wins on the way.
The third key to achieving far off goals is to use setbacks to inform your mind and sharpen your drive. What do you do when you hit a dead end on the way to an important goal, when you’re flat-out defeated on a job interview or sales presentation or art show? Ouch! It’s easy to walk away – not think about why and not want to work so hard again for this – this pain of losing when you have elevated your hopes and worked hard and taken risks! Hoops fans know that Kobe Bryant won three NBA championships, but then the Lakers fell on tough times, losing in or not even making the playoffs for years. He was rich, had his rings, and could have competed comfortably at a super-high level without winning another championship. And, with Jordan, Detroit fans remember proudly that the Pistons thumped young Jordan’s Bulls three years in a row, draping players on him so he couldn’t move. Both Bryant and Jordan used defeat to motivate them. It sharpened their edge. Nobody but you can find this spark, this edge. So find it!!! Know that nothing great is accomplished without setback. Use setback as fuel.
And then the fourth key – also from the hoop greats: get help! Jordan’s response to his third defeat to the hated Bad Boys of Detroit was that he went out and hired Tim Grover, a young personal trainer, and he submitted to Grover’s intense workouts. Grover built the strength Jordan felt he needed to keep the Pistons from wearing him down again. When we watch Michael and Kobe, we see God-given grace and athleticism, the ferocious “eye of the tiger,” and we hear the announcers sanctify these solo heroes. Probably none of us has seen them in a weight room or an empty gym. MJ and Kobe were not alone in their work. Both used Grover and submitted to his regimens.
Here’s what Grover said about MJ and Kobe: “Here’s what they’re willing to do: They understand the sacrifice that it takes . . . They know it’s not just an in-season thing, an offseason thing, a preseason thing. It’s a year-round thing. They have to make sacrifices to go places where you don’t normally want to go.” And what Grover’s not saying is: they got help! Superstars lodged their dreams and goals with someone and gave him license to push them along. Who can you use to help keep you on track? I’m so grateful for my friends and coaches who push me, as I hope someone is pushing you to
Lead with your best self!