Just One More Basket

When I was a kid I had three heroes.

My Dad. Chuck Berry. And Michael Jordan.

I started taking basketball seriously when I was 14 and, as fate would have it, this was just about the exact moment that Jordan broke into the league.

I bought every Sports Illustrated magazine with MJ on the cover. His posters covered my room. My first pair of high tops were Air Jordan 1’s (when they first came out!). When my junior high basketball team was picking jersey numbers and I got to go first cause I was the biggest kid on the team, I quickly chose number 23 to the chagrin of the other 11 kids who also wanted to grab Jordan’s signature number.

You don’t need to be a basketball nut to know who Michael Jordan is. Hell, my Mom who doesn’t know a jump shot from a touchdown could tell you exactly who MJ is. His reputation as a great player, a successful businessman, brand launcher, remarkably hard worker and motivator have all been part of the popular culture going on four decades now.

Outside of, possibly, Muhammed Ali, it’s hard to name another athlete who has had as significant an impact.

Jordan won the NBA scoring title a record 10 times. That is 30% more than the man currently in second place – the legendary Wilt Chamberlain – and more than double anyone else who has ever played in the league. Just for some context, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry – also legends – have each done it twice.

What I find interesting about this is, in those 10 years, he never outperformed the second place finisher by more than two baskets per game.

And, I believe, this small but significant fact reveals the true key to success in business, finance, relationships and fitness.

In a world filled with Amazon and Tesla trillionaires, of The Bachelor couples who whisk away to beautiful islands and gain 2 million Instagram followers, of Crossfit champions who can deadlift 500 pounds and run sub-five minute miles, success can feel like it is far, far away.

And, if you do find yourself at the level of a Michael Jordan or Simone Biles or Elioud Kipchoge than a one or two percent increase in performance is a massive undertaking.

But for the vast majority of us, that’s just not the case.

For most, the difference between feeling stuck and getting unstuck, of being successful, of having the relationships we want and the feelings we want to feel is truly just a matter of one or two more baskets per game.

Are you going to the gym three times per week? Can you sneak in another hour and make it four?

Looking to lose 10 pounds? Can you pull an extra 100 cals per day out of your meals?

Can you call your Mom twice per week instead of once? Can you practice your instrument for an extra 15 minutes? Can you take an hour per week to learn something new? Can you sneak in a 20 minute walk in nature each day?

I realize that this advice seems trite and overly simple. But here’s the shit of it – it actually works.

In most cases, you don’t need some herculean effort to make some more money or add some muscle mass or drop a few pounds or increase your happiness. Most of us are just marginally away from making a meaningful change. Sure, not all of us – but most of us.

A short year ago, our gyms were practically empty. And certainly, some of the change from that time to where we are now has been a matter of circumstances. But so much of it can be linked to the fact that we simply just tried to take one or two steps forward each day. It’s remarkable how all that adds up.

It also completely removes the overwhelm of whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. It’s a lot easier trying to go from 8 clients to 10 than 8 clients to 200.

When Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame he invited some high school friends to the ceremony. And while on the surface this seems really nice, this was not his motivation. These were guys who beat him out to make teams and now he was exacting his revenge by having them be present for his culminating achievement and calling all of them out from the stage.

Even at what should be considered one of his greatest accomplishments, Mike was still trying to find a way to get those extra couple of buckets.

But that’s not you. You’re gonna find more positive ways to celebrate your victories. Like by telling your Mom when you get that raise or get that extra workout in.

Now that you’re calling her twice per week, you’re gonna need something to talk about.