The Growth Mindset
How living with virtuous values, presence, and sports taught me how to live better
“Life is short. And if life is short, then moving quickly matters. Launch the product. Write the book. Ask the question. Take the chance. Be thoughtful, but get moving.” -- James Clear
I was always and still can be an anxious human. When I let this state win, it would stop me from moving forward. So instead, as a kid, I would listen to Enya or classical music and shut my eyes before games, visualize how I would play, what I would do, and how I would react to adversity. The anticipation of playing collegiate and pro basketball games was terrifying at times. The noise. The cameras’ red dot following me. The fans. But then the game started and there was a vacuum of thoughtlessness, and where there was static, or fear, or anxiety became only peace.
This is the gift of sport, it taught me the value of truly letting go — where there is nothing but this breath, this moment, this act, this smile, this shot, and interacting with this human as my very best self.
Fear and anxiety are an illusion in this growth mindset flow state — because anything is possible.
The problem with startup life is I don’t always do the preparation to get myself into this flow state in the real world. The startup world has phone calls, emails, disgruntled customers, employees, taxes, real estate investments, rental houses, well, they break down.
There is always adversity in the real world, just as there is in any game.
Yet, sports and spirituality taught me that true ecstasy lives in the flow state. Where time slows, and emotion and feeling rise into being. This is where we are connected to the Universe. I always found the higher power is just the place where time and energy and love and focus can be and will be allowed to swirl together into something that tastes and feels better than soft-serve a double dutch vanilla, dark chocolate Oreo McFlurry.
The question I keep asking myself is how do I find and prepare to live in this growth mindset state in my day-to-day moments?
I know the essence of sport is presence but how can I get there more often? Meditate? Breathe? Forgive? Love? Be authentic? Live with compassion?
I believe being in the essence of a better life is living in constant presence — in accordance and alignment with the present moment.
Breathing here and now, being grateful for this here and now, loving the people, strangers, customers, and co-workers here and now. Appreciating the journey, not the destination. This can be when your heart wants one big thing, or destination, or zeroes in a bank account.
This one thing can feel so important, and maybe it is.
But it is worth not living in this eternal flow state?
I believe laughter, friendship, love, purpose, meaningful work, and community follows the synchronicity of values, passions, and love in our daily lives and moments. Real success is an internal one, but expecting and dreaming it to happen are two different paths.
The Expectancy Theory of Motivation
This theory defined my childhood and early adulthood, and even now. It says that there is a positive correlation between perceived or real efforts and outcomes; that favorable performance will yield a favorable reward and that reward will satisfy an important need.
You've heard the cliche, "...a self-fulfilling prophecy." Well, this is exactly right. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy for those that expect a positive correlation between mighty efforts to achieve something that truly matters to them.
Let me start by saying this: I’m not the smartest, the most athletic, or the most intelligent person. I got a seven on the math section of my ACT in high school (listen, I know, I forgot my calculator but still got a 21 overall). It really seemed to be a fluke from the outsider’s perspective that I made it to the world of pro basketball, but there was a deep part of me that expected to make it even though I was from a village that had never produced one D1 college basketball player.
“…the Expectancy Theory of Motivation is best described as a process theory and explains why individuals choose one behavioral option over others. The idea with this theory is that people are motivated to do something because they think their actions will lead to their desired outcome.” (Redmond, 2009)
Manifesting your future is the ultimate motivation to behave in a certain way in the present.
If you don’t read any further, know this one piece of advice:
Every day is a new day. It starts with your mindset. With knowing you must dominate the amount of effort you put into your personal/physical/mental development every day to become something of utmost value.
As the writer, Trevor Moawad says, “It takes what it takes,” and I knew I was in for a long journey after I arrived at the highest level of amateur basketball on Earth because I was the worst player in my college basketball team after the season started.
Sometimes the road can seem so long, so far away.
Yet, here are patterns, formulas, and best practices of success we must try to find in the fields and paths we aim to achieve and walk towards. It could be podcasting. Startups. Real estate. Basketball. Music. Science. Tech. Corporate.
Whatever field, industry, art, or sport we want to dominate, we all have a baseline genetic talent and ability to create skills in the field we choose and then go from there.
You dominate your field by understanding there is nothing that can stop you if you apply this formula:
talent x effort = skill
skill x effort = achievement or success
My curiosity was higher than my talent for basketball and my first step towards achieving my high school, college, and professional goals always centered on maximizing my talents through highly intense bouts of practice (on my own or with others).
The expectancy theory connected this feeling of wanting to achieve something external with my insatiable need to compete and train daily.
These external goals felt like hunger pangs inside me when I didn’t practice:
1) First Team All-State
3) Average 20 points a game.
4) Win a conference championship
Each year, in the offseason, I would write these goals down and every day I would decide what kind of effort it would take to reach them.
It takes what it takes, and I manifested my future by making my day and building in the best basketball practices possible by finding the best trainers and players possible to push me to my highest self… daily.
If you can’t find a way to win your present moment, day after day, you won’t achieve what you should have.
My basketball career is over, but my business and startup career is just beginning.
And just as I realized I didn’t really need to be the most athletic to succeed in basketball, I’m realizing the same in startups.
I just need to dominate my day.
Start your day by saying,
"Dominate my day with effort.
Dominate my day with effort.
Dominate my day with effort."
By focusing on the most effort in the areas you deem important, you can expect to create a skillset, a quality, a virtue, or a mindset that creates huge value in your and other people's lives! This goes for parents. For coaches. For everyone.
Good luck out there, and stay rad!