I’ve been there through it all.
Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows that I’m a die-hard heat fan. Besides perhaps Blue’s Clues or Dexter’s Laboratory (“Oooh! What does THAT button do?”), my first memories of watching television are of watching the Miami Heat draft Dwyane Wade out of Marquette University “with the 5th pick of the 2003 NBA Draft” (that last part being said with the voice of former commissioner David Stern’s dry voice in my head).
I witnessed Lamar Odom play in a Miami Heat uniform, back when he was better known for playing basketball than for marrying Khloe Kardashian. Later that year, he was traded to the L.A. Lakers along with Caron Butler and Brian Grant (remember those names, bandwagon fans? Didn’t think so.) for The Big Diesel, Shaquille O’Neal. Shortly afterwards, the Heat finally won their first title, with Wade averaging Jordan-esque numbers in order to slay the Dallas Mavericks after falling behind two games to none before winning four straight in 2006. I was at that championship parade.
I remember sitting in my dad’s living room as Lebron James announced “The Decision”, an event that will go down as one of the biggest snafus in free agency announcement history for everyone in the world except South Floridians, where that moment remains one of the happiest in Miami sports history. I cringed when we lost to the Mavs in 2011, and felt for Lebron as he suffered the biggest media backlash known to mankind for “choking” in the Finals.
I also watched, jaw dropped to the floor, the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, where Lebron, outfitted with the scariest death-stare you could ever imagine, scored 30 points in the first half alone against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to stave off elimination and save his legacy. I celebrated again in South Beach with hundreds of thousands of fans after we won in 2012, and watched Ray Allen’s unforgettable three-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 live from my cell phone in a San Francisco BART station (of course, cheering at the top of my lungs in sheer joy with no regards to anyone else around me waiting for the train). And, most recently, I remember slouching in my seat at a restaurant in the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as I witnessed the Heat lose to the Spurs in the latest NBA Finals.
What die-hard Heat fans will tell you, along with basketball aficionados alike, is that, while we are disappointed to lose Lebron to free agency, we are also extremely grateful to have watched one of the game’s all-time greats play in our team’s uniform night-in and night-out for four memorable years. I don’t think that will truly settle in until long after Lebron walks away from the game in a decade or so.
What I can also say is that there are a lot of lessons to learn from Lebron in regards to “The Decision” 2.0, particularly from his letter in Sports Illustrated in which he told the world about his return home. Here’s why Lebron’s letter is actually a success manifesto to be emulated and modelled after.
1) He Surrounded Himself With The Best Talent
When Lebron wanted to write a letter to the world making his decision about free agency known once and for all, he did so with the help of Lee Jenkins, one of the most acclaimed sports reporters in the world. Jenkins received high praise from the 15 other on-air journalists for ESPN who broke the story, all of whom would have loved to be the first to report such breaking news.
In his open letter, James also acknowledged that the reason he came to Miami in the first place was to play with top talent like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and we saw the success that decision resulted in (2 MVPs, 2 rings, 4 trips to the NBA Finals, and an Olympic Gold medal). In Cleveland, he will certainly look to continue that trend, and the team has already begun making moves to acquire players like Kevin Love to surround James with winning pieces now.
Kudos to Lebron for surrounding himself with top talent, both on and off the court, over the last few years, and it serves as a great business lesson to the rest of us.
2) He Learned From His Mistakes
The first one-and-a-half years Lebron James was in a Miami Heat uniform were disastrous from a PR standpoint, starting with his primetime TV announcement that he was “taking his talents to South Beach” (such sweet, sweet words even now). As he has recovered from being public enemy #1 in the NBA four years ago (and has now arguably become the most lovable sports figure we have today), he has learned from his mistakes and has matured greatly. This time around, he kept things under wraps until he was ready to make his announcement, and then did so in humble and calculated fashion in his Sports Illustrated letter.
Lesson to all leaders out there – learn from your mistakes, and use those teachings to showcase your growth when given the opportunity. Everyone around you, from your employees to your co-workers, friends, family, followers, and fans, will respect you greatly for your growth in maturity.
3) He Didn’t Burn Any Bridges
Both in his letter and in his actions the past few days, Lebron was very sensitive to the key relationships he had built in Miami over the last four years. He met with the other two members of the former “Big Three” at the onset of free agency in order to give them first consideration in this entire process. He made sure to meet with Heat leadership face-to-face to hear their proposal and give them the respect they deserve. He even consulted Wade man-to-man on a long flight back to Miami from Las Vegas, where I’m sure the two of them discussed this move and what it would mean for their friendship.
In his letter, he wisely thanked Heat owner Micky Arison and Heat President Pat Riley for their time together over the past four years, and cited that the relationships he built here were near-and-dear to his heart. For us, we should use this as a lesson for times in life when we need to leave a job, end a relationship, reject a business deal, or otherwise have to part ways with those we become close to. There is a way to leave something or someone respectably, and Lebron James showed us exactly how to do so.
4) He Began Planting Seeds For Future Success Without Sacrificing For Today
Lebron does this in multiple ways with his decision to return to Cleveland, as well as in his letter. He’s returning to a young team that has the potential to keep a core nucleus of players intact for years and years to come, yet already have enough talent to contend for a championship this season and is already looking to add more talent and experience to the roster to try and win now.
With his brand, he secures current sponsorships and momentum by making this “fairy-tale” return reminiscent of Michael Jordan coming back to the Chicago Bulls from early retirement, while also providing the opportunity to cash in on future success and storylines that may come with potentially producing rings for the championship-starved city of Cleveland. Finally, in his letter, he already began to acknowledge some of his team teammates, which will go a long way towards building chemistry for his team come tip-off of the 2014-2015 NBA season.
In business, if you can “cover your nut” today while planting seeds for future success, you’re already doing a pretty good job of managing your time and potential opportunities.
5) He Showed Us That He Was The Bigger Man
It would be easy for Lebron to hold a grudge against Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who wrote a nasty letter to James after his departure from Cleveland in 2010. It would be easy for Lebron to be angry at the Cavs fans who burned his jersey in the streets just minutes after he announced his decision to play in Miami and violently booed him at every reunion between the two teams over the last four years.
It would be easy for him to hate the media, who took every rumor of the last ten days and blew them up to epic proportions. However, all of that said, he put the past behind him, especially in his relationship with Dan Gilbert, in order to make the biggest impact possible for his hometown with his choice of returning. That’s not the easiest thing to do, yet that type of class is what epitomizes true success more than any paycheck, job title, or investment ever will. Well done Lebron.
6) He Acted With A Higher Purpose In Mind
While Lebron is undoubtedly the best basketball player on the planet today, this was not solely a basketball decision for him. As you can read in his letter, he acted with a higher purpose in mind, knowing that he was in a position to profoundly impact an entire city’s future for decades to come.
Not only can he potentially deliver a sports championship to a city that hasn’t had one in 50 years, but he sets a standard for hundreds of thousands of Ohio natives, from the 3rd graders currently growing up there to the adults who’ve moved on to other parts of the world, that Cleveland is a great place to live and a sound place to invest your professional and familial future in.
Lebron understands his impact in revitalizing his hometown, and understands the long-term ramifications his return can have on the city’s economy, growth, and collective psyche long after he hangs up his jersey. While we should all make decisions that benefit us today, we should also constantly be cognisant of our higher purposes in life and align our actions accordingly with our “calling” wherever possible.
It has been an absolute pleasure watching one of the greatest players of all-time play for my favorite NBA team the last four years, and as disappointed as Heat fans may be with Lebron’s decision to return to Cleveland, we should all be appreciative of the lessons he can teach us. He is certainly a class act, and his letter in Sports Illustrated should serve as a success manifesto for anyone looking to “make it big” in life (including all the former bandwagon Heat fans who instantaneously became bandwagon Cavalier fans upon hearing his announcement).
Thank you, Lebron. See you next year.
How One Small Step Back Backwards Is One Giant Leap Forwards
For me, this conjures up a scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail where the king is explaining about how he built his castle on a swamp, each castle sank into the swamp until the fourth one stood firm.
It’s so incredibly important to have solid foundations on which to build your life or business. There are times though where we think we have a rock-solid foundation and ignore the holes forming in it. Just like we think we’re invincible and nothing can hurt us or affect us, we think our foundations are too.
There are times when we need to fix those holes and cracks but that means taking a step backwards and many see it as a weakness. Their ego will tell them they’re going in the wrong direction. Their ego will tell them they’re letting themselves down and they’ve become as weak as a little field mouse. I disagree though. I see the act of taking a step backwards to be one of the strongest and most powerful things we can do!
We begin these journeys whether in life or in business with big plans. We’re excited, our emotions are running high and just like a kid on Christmas day, we forget about most things because our focus is on the prize (or the presents). Maybe we forget to put the battery door back onto one of our gifts properly.
At first, everything is amazing. We spend hours playing with the new toy, it seems like only surgery will remove the smile from our face. Then it happens, the toy stops working because the batteries have fallen out (remember the door?), the smile weakens, the tears begin, the special day is filled with wails of sadness. All because you’d missed something at the beginning.
“When things go wrong, go back to the basics” –Urvi Mistry
Tame our ego
One of the most powerful things that stop us taking that step backwards is our ego. It would be like asking a NASA rocket scientist if they would like to read “Rocket Science for Dummies”, they just wouldn’t do it because they would see it as belittling their existing knowledge. I’ll be honest, I would have felt the same if someone had handed me an “Archery for Dummies” book just as I’d won my second British championship title.
These are the times when we have to suspend our ego. It can be difficult and many times we have to force ourselves to do it, but when we do we massively grow. It’s like when we go to a workshop or conference. The speaker lineup is awesome, you’re excited to see them. The event begins, the house lights dim and the stage is spotlit.
The first speaker comes on stage, begins talking and your first thoughts are “But I already know that”. The mental walls shoot up and you miss all of the golden nuggets available because your ego shut off your mind to any new information.
This is exactly the same process that happens when someone suggests to us that maybe we should take a few steps backwards to strengthen our foundation. The mental walls go up and our mind goes into lockdown. It’s like sticking fingers in our ears and loudly shouting “La La La La La La” so we don’t hear someone saying things.
So what can you do?
The first step is to slap your ego around the face with a wet trout. Your ego is used to being in control so doing something to disrupt that situation gives your conscious mind the control back long enough to jump in and begin reasoning and questioning the situation.
Start asking yourself “What do I REALLY need to do to fix things?”. The solution won’t be to stick a band-aid on, it’s to fix the core issues which can be anything from lack of systems/procedures, lack of academic knowledge or lack of experience. All of these fall into the realms of your foundations and that’s where your focus should be.
All too often we complicate things to the point where we stop seeing the solution. To stop your pizza from sticking to the box lid, you wouldn’t start to develop a non-stick cardboard coating so the cheese doesn’t stick to the lid when it gets dumped around by the delivery driver. You’d keep it simple and put the little plastic thing in the centre of the pizza instead.
“It’s very satisfying to take a problem we thought difficult and find a simple solution. The best solutions are always simple.” – Ivan Sutherland
When we complicate things, not only do we lose sight of the end goal, but we forget about the simple solutions. Those simple solutions reside in the realm of the basic, that place you get to when you take this valuable but sometimes difficult steps backwards. Yes, it’s going to be hard at first, yes it’s going to give you those feelings of failure and going back to school, but believe me when I tell you they will be the best, strongest and most powerful steps you take, on a par with Neil Armstrong’s small step for man.
2 Simple Steps to Help You Break Through Your Fears
If you are addicted to success you most certainly are addicted to fear too. Why? Because they are a direct consequence of each other. When you achieve success, it’s because you have taken actions and broken through fears that were holding you back. Every success you have comes from breaking a fear you held onto.
It is incredible to think how much energy and time entrepreneurs waste looking after their fears, making sure they are listened to. It is much harder to feed the energy of fear than feed the energy of success. I want you to think about the mental dilemma you face every single day, the battle you will probably have in your mind when it comes to taking certain actions in your business.
Shall I take that risk?
What if I’m rejected? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’ll be ridiculed in front of others? What if I fail? Just think of how hard it is to constantly listen and obey these thoughts.
The battle in your head is real and challenging. The good thing is you can win it, and the bad thing is there will always be a battle going on in your head. However, you can become a more consistent winner.
Success will always require a new level of expansion which will result in a new level of fears needed to be broken. Imagine this like an elastic band. Every time you face a fear, the elastic will stretch more and more, and the tension will be greater. When you become brave and take the action, the tension will be released and the elastic band will fly further creating a bigger expansion.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Fears are normal and essentials to your success
If there are no fears, there’ll be no stretch and no expansion from you. If you want to succeed, you must break through some fears, and this is obvious. But how can you break through fears with ease? I personally used all the possible solutions available in the world to win my fears: meditation, counseling, talking therapies, exercises and many more.
Although those helped, the ultimate way to conquer your fears is to go straight through them. I won some of my biggest fears since starting my entrepreneurial journey that no one else and nothing could help me break. This seems better said than done, but by following a few simple steps, you can do it too.
Here are 2 simple steps to help you breakthrough those fears:
1. Becoming aware of what your fears are
Often they’re very well camouflaged, and they’ll appear in your life as if on autopilot, in the same way electricity comes when you flip a light switch. They’re often triggered by someone else’s actions or words, or by your idea on what the consequence of a certain action will bring to you.
Fears contain so much energy on their own, so imagine what you could do with that energy if you could use it to your advantage. Imagine fear being a close wrist. Every time you activate the fear, you give more energy to it. Every time you think of the fear, you feed the wrist with more power.
As you live your life controlled by fears, the wrists will get more and more powerful. Picture that. Then you try to take certain actions in your business like going live for the first time, proposing a deal to a certain client, writing an article where you express your very own controversial opinion about something, or invest money you currently do not have.
Fears will come in, fully charged. You try to win by punching towards the wall of action. You want to break through, and you know that on the other side of the wall there’s success.
You punch and keep punching but nothing happens. Then, imagine you taking the leap, pointing the wrist towards the wall and BANG! You break through.
Now, the energy of fear has been released and is now ready to be used to your advantage.
The energy will disperse and free itself and it will transmute into freedom and power to take further actions.
“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
2. Figure out why you fear that certain thing
After you realise what the fear is, ask yourself, “Why do I fear to take this action?” Explore the consequences that breaking that specific fear will bring you. “What will happen if I break this and I achieve the results I desire?
These questions are vital, as you’ll realize your fears are just trying to keep you safe. Humans are not wired for success, they are wired for survival. So anything to do with success will be filtered through your lens of fear.
Once you realize WHAT will happen if you achieve the success you desire, which usually are negative scenarios, calm your mind and imagine a positive scenario instead. Write this down for each negative scenario your mind will create.
One of my biggest fears is the fear of being successful as I believe (my scenario) that people won’t like me anymore, and that I won’t be able to spend time with my family. So once I detected the fear, I changed the scenario. Instead of thinking people will not like me anymore, I create a new reality I desire which could look something like this: I will be able to help and impact more people and I will make sure I take lots of days off and delegate stuff to my team so to spend time with my family.
It is that simple. Once your subconscious mind is reassured with the new positive outcome, it will become easier for you to take action. In the end, always remember you’re in charge of your life, no one else, let alone your fears.
How do you conquer your fears? Let us know your advice and thoughts below!
Being Alone With Yourself Is the Most Important Skill We Have Lost
We live in a world where we’re always around people either at work, in the store, and on our phones through social media. In fact, our society tends to label anybody who wants to be or is alone, as a lonely person or even more terribly, a depressed person. We have forgotten how to enjoy our own company.
This is particularly surprising since some of the admired and highly celebrated icons in human history are well known to be “loners.” We have mastered a lot of skills from society, but perhaps we have neglected the most important skill of all. The ability to learn alone, to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, to reflect on the way forward in life, to just sit and appreciate nature, is invaluable.
Here are 4 ways to make being alone fun and productive:
1. Change scenery
You don’t have to do this all the time, but one way to enjoy your time alone is to take a trip or a very long drive or run. It can be difficult to spend time alone when you’re around familiar faces. It’s one of the reasons why people go on vacations away from home. Just get out and spend some time alone reflecting and enjoying your own company.
2. Switch off everything
We live in a world of digital communication. If you truly want to be alone for a while, it would be better if you didn’t login to Facebook and Twitter at all. Better yet, turn off your phone.
Now that you are alone, it is time to reflect on what you want, what you have done, what you want to be doing. Silence or cool music might be good here. Whichever way, one of the things that make being alone rewarding is the fact that it affords you the opportunity to reflect.
“I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose.” – Kobe Bryant
4. Give yourself a treat
Go see a movie, buy a plate of food or a cup of ice-cream. Being alone is not only a time to think, it is also a time to pamper yourself. Treat yourself to the best things that you can afford and be happy and proud about it.
Now that you know how to make being alone fun and productive, it’s time to see the benefits of being alone. Here are 6 benefits you can expect from embracing being alone:
1. It aids personal growth
Apart from all the skills we get from self-development books, being alone helps build us. Through it, we are able to make plans, to ask critical questions and put our lives in the proper perspective. To grow, it is important that you take yourself out and properly assess your life alone, away from friends, families and colleagues.
2. It energizes
There are times when we’re stressed out by work, family, and friends, so being alone is a wonderful way to renew yourself with extra energy. This is the time to give yourself treats and plenty of rest and leisure, away from the stress of the world.
3. It increases the value you place on relationship
When you come to a point where you love being alone, it makes it so that you’re very intentional about your relationship with others. Being alone can also help you properly evaluate and see all there is to love and enjoy about your relationship with others.
4. It increases self-confidence
Another wonderful benefit of being alone is that it helps to boost your self- confidence and self esteem. The more time you spend alone with yourself, the more comfortable you are with your skill and with your strengths and weaknesses.
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan
5. It helps you become more empathetic
One thing about having friends and those we relate with very often is that we unconsciously develop a mentality that makes us empathetic towards them rather than others. Findings have shown that the more time you spend alone, the more compassion you’re able to show to a wider range of people.
6. The difference between being alone and being lonely
The desire to be alone is quite different from loneliness and sometimes, we do not take the required time to be alone because we don’t want to be perceived as “lonely” by others. To be lonely is to deeply want to relate and have communication with someone or some people but to be unable to.
It’s an ache that you carry around throughout the day, and it seriously affects all you do. It could make the entire world seem frustrating. The death of a loved one can lead to loneliness after a while.
Being alone on the other hand, as seen earlier, is intentionally deciding to get away from everybody and enjoying being with yourself as you reflect on your life and all that’s to come.
Taking time to be alone is very productive and it can be a wonderful thing for you. Take time away from social media and friends and find a nice spot to relax with yourself and analyze your habits and see how they affect your life.
Do you enjoy spending time by yourself? Share your thoughts below on if you think it benefits you and helps you recharge!
Simple Meditation Techniques To Enhance Your Productivity
At times, the workplace can be a stressful place to be. Whether you are faced with demanding clients, even more demanding colleagues, or just the incessant activity of the environment itself, the workplace can at times feel like it is exerting a pressure down upon your shoulders that is difficult to extricate yourself from.
Not only is this unhealthy and detrimental to your wellbeing, it is also highly counterproductive for your organization. A stressed or unhappy employee is, for the most part, an unproductive employee who you do not necessarily want interacting with valuable clients, while its difficult to forge fruitful relationships with co-workers.
However, with these easy-to-use techniques, you can help turn your business space into an oasis of calm, boosting your work productivity at the same time.
It may be that you want to invoke some form of meditative state, but the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself from wide-eyed colleagues. If this sounds like you, then there are a number of at-desk meditations you can perform which will not only assist in destressing and boosting performance, but will do so without attracting unwelcome glances.
Here are a few of the most easy to use:
1. Tap your fingers to the rhythm of time
Put both of your hands on your thighs or on your desk, and proceed to start tapping each finger individually, starting with your pinky finger. It is important that you use a sequence, and time it effectively to a slow rhythm. The last part is to then recite a five-word mantra that relates to time.
There is an infinity of options here, but you could go with ‘I do have enough time’ or ‘Time is my best friend’. The idea is to create a zen-like state where you are breathing regularly and focussing on the small activity at hand (literally). Continue until your breathing has become regular and the repeated-mantra has eased though you to your core.
This is an immensely achievable meditative process that I love to utilize in any number of situations because it is so private.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Shake it off
Now is the time to focus on exactly what or who is causing your stress. Take some time out, sit quietly on your chair, and take a few deep breaths while you think about the origin of your stress. Next, start to recite to yourself a mantra along the lines of ‘It’s OK and I can move on from this.’ Then, start to take a few deeper breaths and use the time you breathe out to really sigh away your frustration.
Finally, shake your body to release the tension from you. There is no need to make any deep noises or draw unwanted attention to yourself, but that really shouldn’t be a consideration anyway, and will only exacerbate your stress in the process. This is about breathing and release.
3. Eyes to the flame
If you are feeling a little braver, and you understand that an open flame will not cause any undue disquiet in the workplace around you (or that you are breaking any health and safety regulations), using a candle can be a wonderful tool to help create a meditative state. Start by switching off your computer. In fact, this is a good place to begin with any meditative activity as the glare from the screen will distract your attention.
Light the candle and then bring the flame towards your eye level, holding it approximately 20 inches away, or into a position that is comfortable. Then, stare into the flame for up to 2 minutes, remembering to breathe regularly as you do so.
“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama
Meditations for a private space
If you have access to a private space in the workplace, there are other types of meditative positions which you can undertake, including, lying on the floor. Lying down immediately helps to put you in an unfamiliar position for work, which is helpful in itself, but a familiar position for feeling comforted and relaxed.
Close your eyes and then once again, start to breathe in a rhythmic manner. It is essential that your breathing becomes your primary focus, so you breathe in and out with a deep concentration on what you are doing.
When starting out, five minutes is more than apt, as long as that’s five minutes of a concentrated nature. You can then start to push out those times, and there is no reason why before long you shouldn’t be able to manage 20 minutes of perfect meditative calm. This can easily be done during a lunch break or even a mid-morning break.
There are also walking meditations for more adventurous types, which involves focusing on your steps and breaths simultaneously, concentrating always on a forward motion, both literally and figuratively. Emotional calmness and wellbeing in the workplace is just around the corner.
Have you tried meditation? If so, do you like it? Let us know your thoughts about meditation below!
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