If we all can do one thing daily to improve the quality of our day, it is this.
When the outcome is not favorable, it is easy to beat yourself up. It is easy to read too much into the facts. If you performed poorly on a sales call or had a bad day at your job, it might result in a bummer for you. Now, here’s where your mind tricks you into blaming yourself too harshly even for these tiniest of things. It keeps playing the tape of “You could have been better…” or “You could have tried something else” etc. This constant chatter is toxic if left unaddressed. That will end up bringing your human spirit down. Your energy will be drained and you will lose the positivity and the passion you need to bring to your next moment. In Zen, there is this concept of “a beginner’s mind” which essentially says you have to watch your mind carefully with mindfulness so that you approach a new moment always with enthusiasm and energy. Only a positive passionate beginner can do that so it encourages us to be like a beginner and keep the mind clear at every new moment. The quote goes: “The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind.”
The most popular example of Zen Mind in professional sports to me is Steve Kerr, the coach of NBA Golden State Warriors team.
The example I am about to use here blew my mind at how he treats himself and essentially treats others around him.
A few days ago, the Warriors were losing to the Houston Rockets (a highly competitive team) in the 2nd game of the NBA Western Finals. The reality is that the Warriors were playing poorly as a team and just were having an overall bad day. Steve Kerr, the coach in his half-time interview took full responsibility in speaking to a media member and stated honestly that the Rockets were outplaying them in every department of the game. Now, it would have been easy to blame the players or read too much into the reality. Yet he simply said they will come back better next time.
A few minutes later, he was found chatting with Steph Curry, the top talent in the Warriors team who is returning from injury and honestly wasn't doing great on the floor. But Kerr put a very positive spin on the reality. As I got to hear the actual words he spoke, I was amazed. Steve Kerr didn’t take reality or the fact that they were losing in a negative light but wove a beautiful positive NARRATIVE around it while interacting with Curry which I am sure helped Curry stay in his best spirits in the 2nd half. They went on to lose this game but eventually that optimism carried them to win the series and the championship in 2018.
The next day I was catching up with a friend at ATV who looked a little disappointed that he was supposed to go to the IronMan in Chattanooga but his running partner cancelled on him last minute. He seemed a little upset which is unusual to this guy. He is usually an energetic fella. I wondered if he was blaming himself for signing up to this challenging race or for his friend cancelling on him. Either way, that’s not his fault. I simply shared this Steve Kerr Zen mind story with him and asked him to look at the NARRATIVE and not the REALITY too closely. I told him for whatever it’s worth, I was excited for him. He smiled back and we parted ways for lunch.
The following weekend I got a text from him at 5:00 am that he was entering the race. I was in deep sleep (probably snoring too) but when I opened the text several hours later, I had an uncanny satisfying feeling.
Reality is only 10% of the equation. The rest is your reaction to it.
Craft your NARRATIVE with mindfulness and that simple trick will lift your human spirit up to do something that you love even more passionately.