I’m sure that Michael Jordan never used a Magic Feather as Dumbo did, but he was a master of crafting scenarios that kept him motivated to play at the highest level. In The Last Dance, there were many examples of when Jordan would take one comment and consider it a personal affront – enough to inspire him to score 40 or 50 points in response. Or, he would see another player anointed as MVP or hear that the Bulls’ front office was scouting someone he considered subpar – then set out to prove himself as the superior player. The internal challenge provided his fuel.

These mind games, as with the feathers, are stories that we tell ourselves to elicit performance beyond the usual. Higher caliber actions often begin with the mental aspect rather than the task itself. Just as we are our own worst enemy, we can become our greatest champion with the right perspective.

Think about the stories you tell yourself about your dreams or your limitations. Do you take the external trash talk to heart and doubt your abilities or do you reframe it into motivation to prove otherwise?

When we believe, we are often able to achieve.

Michael Jordan at Boston Garden
Photo by
Steve Lipofsky at basketballphoto.com

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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