Chapter 6: Why You’re Not Chasing Success

In the end, what we truly are searching for is peace of mind. Happiness. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. Every single action you take is rooted in happiness. And not happiness in the sense that we desire things like money, clothes, and food. When we seek success in material things, once we get them, then what? It’s like when you accomplish that huge goal you have, win the state championship, or get that college scholarship — yes it’s great, but then what? Studies show that the happiness from accomplishing big goals actually only lasts a couple hours and in rare cases up to a month. When we seek things that are within us, not outside of us… these are lasting. Because these are things we become, not things we achieve. Is striving for things wrong? No, because it is in the striving, in the dreaming, in the struggles and challenges, that we become the person we need to be in order to seek the internal things. The calmness, the happiness, the peace of mind. Knowing that you put forth your best effort in becoming the best you were able to become.

I have the same problem as Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier: “(Eckhart) Tolle was forcing me to confront the fact that the thing I’d always thought was my greatest asset — my internal cattle prod — was also perhaps my greatest liability.”

“As part of my ‘price of security’ mind-set, I had long assumed that the only route to success was harsh self-criticism. However, research shows that ‘firm but kind’ is the smarter play. People trained in self-compassion meditation are more likely to quit smoking and stick to a diet. They are better able to bounce back from missteps. All successful people fail. If you can create an inner environment where your mistakes are forgiven and flaws are candidly confronted, your resilience expands exponentially.” — Dan Harris

I am still learning this, reminding myself of this and working on it everyday. For years, I had attached my self-worth, calm, peace, and happiness to the level of players that we worked with. I really wanted to work the Nike Skills Academies. I kept telling myself that once I worked those events, with the best high school and college players in the country, that I would be validated. I would be the able to say to myself that I was one of the best in the country at teaching the game. Once we started working out more NBA players I would believe in myself and what our company was doing. But, the more I became mindful, the more I realized where the source of those desires came from. The need to feel validated. The need to feel like the work that I put so much time in to mattered. This is when I started to learn that you can’t let anyone validate what you do. When you are really passionate about what you do it’s really hard to draw the line between who you are and what you do. But, if you are looking for external validation you are always going to be looking for someone else to “let you into their club.” If it was Nike, then it would be the NBA, if it was the NBA then it would be USA Basketball. Is it wrong to have these as dreams and strive for them? No, but you have to detach from them. You are not your dream. You are a human being. The effort you put forth, the way that you love others and yourself — that matters the most.

“What hurts a lot of people, particularly famous people, is they start valuing themselves for “what” they are, the way the world sees them: writer, speaker, basketball player. And you start believing that what you are is who you are. There’s a big difference.” — Kobe Bryant

The more I became mindful about WHY I really wanted to pursue certain things, the more I became aligned with things I truly wanted to pursue.

So I co-founded DRIVE, a non-profit that provides inner-city, at-risk youth access to professional basketball training, mentoring and personal development activities. Why? Because I realized that my dream really wasn’t to work with NBA players. My dream, my purpose, my “why,” was to help people who have big dreams achieve big dreams. To me, that was success.

And until you define it for yourself you will always be looking for something on the outside to fulfill yourself.