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What good experience it is to see your life flash before your eyes
A lesson from a loss
In the press conference following the last game of the season for basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, he was asked whether failing to live up to championship expectations meant the whole season was a failure. He was understandably a little flustered by the question but quickly regained his composure to deliver this response:
Do you get a promotion every year? In your job? No, right? So every year you work is a failure? Yes or no? No. Every year you work, you work towards something, towards a goal — which is to get a promotion, to be able to take care of your family, provide a house for them, or take care of your parents. You work towards a goal — it’s not a failure. It’s steps to success…Michael Jordan played 15 years, won six championships. The other nine years [were] a failure?
Sports platitudes like taking it one game at a time or a good offense being the best defense don’t usually offer much insight, but I was impressed with the way Giannis was able to zoom out of a disappointing moment so soon after it occurred.
Nobody wants to talk about the process when things are going poorly. At the time of defeat, there is nothing rewarding about lessons learned. If you’re under attack, it’s definitely a better idea to think about how you’ll retreat to safety than what good experience it is to see your life flash before your eyes.
But that ultimate perspective is unparalleled for a reason, right? And eventually, after we calm down and process the experience, we’re able to zoom out, too, if not that far. On some level, the season was a failure and even Giannis knows that, but by avoiding the trap of a false binary, he was able to expand the experience outside of that moment in time.
So often, it doesn’t matter if what ended was fun or meaningful or even going particularly well. The only thing that gets reported is that it’s over. But it is just that—a moment. One in a long line of stumbles and hiccups and downright failures.
To try, to put yourself in a vulnerable position, in an effort to make something happen where there was nothing before, that might just be why we’re all here. So instead of taking it one game at at time, try looking at the season as a whole, all the way back to the first time you realized you had an idea. It’s been an adventure, and this version of it might be over, but you aren’t. And when you’re ready, you’ll try again, better for the all the times it didn’t work out.
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