First, please watch this mind-and-body-boggling 57-second video. Maybe just ask: HOW????
Are you done shaking your head in disbelief? Come back onto your field of play. Maybe you pursue excellence at a trade or craft – speaking, mediating, inspiring, designing, building, teaching, or how about parenting? What can we learn about pursuing excellence?
Incessant repetition. Work ethic. Smart practice. Breaking it down into pieces. Being committed in mind and action to continuously improve. 16 shots in that video. 10’s or 100’s of thousands in practice like that.
Trust of self. It’s hard enough to fight the opposition. It’s massively harder when you’re fighting yourself: second-guessing, starting-and-stopping, comparing yourself, fearing bad results, squeezing tighter. Tighter. Tighter. Curry doesn’t seem to fight himself, chastise himself, doubt himself. Seldom in a game does he or any player make over half their shots. When he misses, he continues to let it flow.
This trust in self is, of course, a paradox. If “having confidence” were easy, it would be, well, easy. But see how points 1 and 2 reinforce each other? When you’ve practiced and prepared hard, you can relax into your work more easily. I know, going into a 700-person classroom that if my power point deck is really solid, I can cruise. I know, going into 2023, that I will have given deep thought and prayer and conversation to what I hope to accomplish. That will make it easier to be in the moment – over and over again – when I release the ball, as Curry does, with fluidity. I think there is a third point…
Trust in . . . the world. The games of basketball and life have thousands of moving parts. When, for instance, you “raise a child,” your “control” is 95% illusion! You’re not going to swish every shot on the parenting floor. Despite your young-parent hidden assumptions that you can (and must!) get it right, a thousand variables are outside your control. For starters, their bowels 😊. For ever, their will, their siblings, your parents, schools, oh, come on, the list is endless.
This third point cycles back to the second, because Steph’s very body is “his,” but in a sense, it’s external to him. In relation to his will to control, his fingers, wrists, triceps, etc., are just another part of the world. He (his brain and will) can’t “make it” shoot those perfect shots you saw in the video.
It may be pure projection on my part, but I think Steph Curry has a kind of trust and also humility about the world. You’ve got to respect it: Wins, losses, injuries, momentum, referees, competitors, rules changes, family demands, aging, fellow players – everything is always in flux. He seems to know that, and it seems to take pressure off him. He seems to have one more thing – maybe related to all of the above:
Joy. It’s a game. It’s “play.” How do we forget that?
May your week bring you: good practice, trust in yourself, trust in the world, and joy as you play at
Leading with your best self.