LeBron James has been taking a lot of criticism the last few years for regularly passing up game winning shots, often deferring to one of his teammates when the game is on the line. Some critics have asserted that James is great in non-pressure situations, but hard to find in the final seconds of close games. This was no more apparent than in the NBA Finals last year against Dallas, where we saw a very different and less able player in the 4th quarters of games than we did the first 3 quarters.
With LeBron being criticized so regularly these days (he passed up yet another game winning shot earlier this week), I got to thinking about an old Michael Jordan commercial that’s as true today as it was when it first released back in the 1990’s. The commercial (seen above) is a terrific reminder of how “greatness” only comes about by overcoming fear and being willing to fail. Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time — yet in this powerful commercial he doesn’t highlight his greatest performances, but instead all of the times he came up short when the game was on the line.
Most people don’t think about the many failures great athletes experience along the way to their eventual success. Similarly, when we witness successful people in life, we often overlook or forget about the challenges, adversity, and failures they have had to overcome in order to achieve their greatness. Why does this happen you might ask? In most cases, it’s our human tendency to fear failure. It is this fear that paralyzes us from taking calculated risks and chances, opting instead for the more conservative route of doing nothing at all (what LBJ has been accused of at the end of close games).
The Jordan commercial is really not a sports commercial, but instead a very powerful message about life success. Mental toughness and resiliency can be developed and parlayed into many unbelievable life experiences, but the fear of failure will always be there lurking in the background, too. In order to reach our full potential, we must first realize that everyone fails — including even the great ones like Michael Jordan. We also need to realize that failure is really more of a learning experience than it is a measure of one’s potential and future abilities. Thankfully, Michael Jordan failed as much as he did, for if he didn’t we might not ever have come to witness all of his great basketball abilities.
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anxiety, fear, focus, James, jordan, LeBron, mental, michael, pressure, resiliency, toughness