Recently, I asked Campy Russell, former NBA All-Star, if the Cleveland Cavaliers would make it back to the play-offs. He said it depended on their curiosity. Think about what a fascinating answer: it’s not solely their basketball skills nor defensive strategies that will return them to the Promised Land.
Their success will depend on each player’s curiosity to see how much better they can be. How curiousare you about your next level of excellence? If you’re not curious then you live in what I call The Stupid Zone. Where we live when we don’t question ourselves.
Imagine being an NBA player. You are the cream of the basketball crop in the United States and now abroad. There are currently 491 NBA players in the world. What if you were one of them? You had a good draft, good team, and good contract. Would you be curious to improve your skills?
How curious was Shaq O’Neal to improve his skills at the foul line? Apparently, barely adequate was good enough. He chose to spend extra time with the LA Police rather than the foul shooting police. When is good enough, good enough?
Many sports lessons can be applied to our world, and this is one of them.
Let’s look at some examples of how curiosity can lead to success, while lack of curiosity surely keeps us stagnant.
The Yankees and the Midges both invaded Jacob’s field during the first round of the American League baseball playoffs. In attendance the night of the invasion, I was more fascinated by the force of the midges than Derek Jeter or A Rod. How could players possibly focus through the Job-like swarm that either G-d or LeBron had sent? Ryan Garko said, “The other guys were acting like bullets were flying at them. Hey, this is the big leagues.”
Are you curious about how some players could play through the midges and a glorified gnat conquered others? Are you curious about the midges in your life? Are you curious about why you take your eye off your goal, while others concentration seems never to waver?
Are you curious about the things people can concentrate through? If one person’s bug is another person’s bullet, how do you make your bugs benign?
Are you curious about how a team can go from a 3-1 lead to a 4-3 loser?
Have you ever gone from favored provider to calls not returned?
They say good pitching beats good hitting in the playoffs. In the American League Pennant race, Boston trotted out 100-year-old pitcher Kurt Schilling and the Indians trotted out 100-year-old hitter Trot Nixon. Was it the really the pitching?
I contend what went wrong was above the shoulder, not at the end of the arm. The Indians woke up the morning of Game 5, one win away from the World Series. Collectively they said, oh my G-d, we’re almost in the World Series. And played as though they didn’t deserve to be there.
Our game too, is played from the neck up. Are you curious about the connection? Do you believe you can land the next sale, the life changing account? Does everything you say and everything you do drip with confidence and competence? Or do you question your ability to play in the big leagues? It makes a difference to your next sale, promotion, or position.
Are you curious about a winner’s mindset? There isn’t just one.
Manny Ramirez, or Man Ram as Jim Rome calls him, is consistently tagged with the plus de name of “quirky”. The Red Sox were down 3-1. when he basically, said, hey if we lose it’s not the end of the world.
Manny took a beating in the press, Boston tried to spin it as a language misquote, and then of course Man Ram gets a pass because he’s Manny. But what he said should not be overlooked. His mindset was, this is simply a game. We win, we go home, we lose we go home. No one dies. And he continued to be as spectacular a player in the last 3 games of the series as he was throughout the season. Which is saying a lot. Because many, many players over many,many years in many, many sports have disappeared in their playoffs.
Are you curious about what Manny told himself compared to what the first-time-in-the-playoff Indians told themselves? Juxtapose Manny’s mind talk with the perceived stories the Indians were telling themselves and adding pressure by the minute. Are you curious about how to keep things in perspective?
How curious are you about you? How curious are you about the skills you can develop and the skills you can enhance? Will your play-off and championship success depend on your curiosity? Go Cavs.