I’ve never been interested in professional basketball, but I heard the “The Last Dance" — ESPN's documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls — was a can’t miss. Episode #1 had me at hello with some pretty great story telling. By the final episode, I learned Michael’s brand of excellence had as much to do with the power of his mindset as it did his skill. In Episode #10, the Bulls have just won their 6th Championship. On the court just before the trophy ceremony Michael's coach, Phil Jackson, embraces him in a huge bear hug and says: Coach: Can you believe it? Michael: Yes I can! Coach: I can’t believe it. Michael: Yes I can! Coach: That was beautiful. Michael: I never gave up. I never gave up. Michael: I knew we were going to do it. Michael: I knew it. Michael: Every time we were close I knew we were going to do it. Michael Jordan never does not believe. In an earlier episode, when the producer asks about a last minute clutch shot, MJ says — ‘Why would I ever think about a shot that I’m NOT going to make. I’m only going to think about the shot I am going to make!!' This is a master class in positive thinking. When our thoughts are in service to what we want, in pursuit of our dreams, it changes the way we feel to produce incredible outcomes. This is actually based in neuroscience. Michael’s mindset is wired to win. In two of my workshops this week, imposter syndrome and the inner critic were attributed to holding people back from their potential. Both are rooted in the thoughts we tell ourselves. Be brave enough to speak up to those negative voices with language that lifts you up and reminds you of the champion you are underneath. Some critics have said Michael was too competitive and he needed an ‘enemy’ to fuel his drive. What I took away from ‘The Last Dance’ was that Michael Jordan created a narrative in his mind that allowed him to laser focus on winning every game and his dream of winning more national championship titles than any other team or player.
Remember, this is a man who didn’t make his high school varsity team and went on to become one of the greatest athletes ever. We all know it takes more than smarts or skill to be successful. The slight edge comes from those who dedicate themselves to thinking and seeing nothing but net. May winning thoughts be with you!