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June 24, 2024

The Score Takes Care Of Itself

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Michael Jordan is one of the most competitive and prolific athletes of all time. He outworked, out hustled, and outsmarted his opponents on his way to setting records and winning NBA Championships.  What’s so fascinating is how someone like him, who achieved so much, barely allowed himself to look at the results he was earning.

Jordan was obsessed with the process. He was fiercely dedicated to his craft and wouldn’t let anything get in the way of him being the greatest of all time. One of his core beliefs that demonstrates this, that he brought into everything he does is having a deep faith that “the score takes care of itself”.

What does that mean?

It means that there’s this implicit connection between what we do and what we get out of it. It’s an acknowledgment of “cause and effect”, and how the result is out of our control but we can influence it by controlling what we put in. And not wanting to leave the result up to chance, Jordan was relentless in his preparation and approach to the game.

You’d think that one of the best scorers in history would be concerned with the score. It almost sounds like an apathetic approach to it. Michael is one of the fiercest competitors in history, so it’s not to say that he didn’t care about the score (because he very much did). If anything it reinforces his unbelievable commitment to doing the work and dedicating himself to what was in his control, which was his work ethic and development.

Not surprisingly, another basketball icon, UCLA coach John Wooden, had a similar philosophy. His definition of success is “having peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Wooden says it with a bit of a different intention, suggesting a healthy disconnection from the end-result and a strict prioritization of preparation.

We’re in a world that values results. What’s the weight on the scale? How much business did you bring in? And results are important because they reflect our personal realities. But those are just the lagging indicators of the work that actually fuels the process, which is the work.

I’m willing to bet that both Michael Jordan and John Wooden were more in tune with the daily actions they needed to take to meet the requirements of championship worthy performance.

So if you want something really badly in your life, take a note from some of the most successful and accomplished men in basketball. Think about what you could do on a daily basis, as part of your core process to attain it, rather than be fixated on the thing itself. Your energy and attention isn’t as valuable there.

For most of us our best life doesn’t involve treating our life like Micahel Jordan treated his. But his success leaves clues, and we’d benefit from paying attention to it.

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