“Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.” — Eckhart Tolle
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player to ever play in the NBA. His former competitors know it, his former teammates know it, the audience knows it, the National Basketball Association knows it, and most importantly, Michael Jordan knows it.
He is unapologetic about it. He is the best basketball player to play the game.
Michael Jordan is basketball. He embodies it. You don’t have to know a lot about Jordan to see what everyone sees, just watch five minutes of the new docuseries on Netflix, The Last Dance, and you’ll know it too.
When you see Jordan fly down the court, into the air, and dunk the ball like it is an appendage of his body, you feel like something else is at work or with him, God, the universe, it’s watching poetry in motion, it is truly beautiful.
Jordan knows one thing — a secret — it makes him a great player, he is present in everything he does on the court.
Yes, he has the technical skill, instincts, surgical precision, physical strength, and a body built for the game — he can make nearly any shot — any time — under tremendous pressure.
What is more impressive than his physicality is his mentality.
Why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet? — Jordan
He remains completely focused on the obstacle at hand, whether that is dodging the guy who is tasked to defend him or making the three-point winning shot in the last four seconds of a game, he is entirely in the moment.
Most of us struggle to be present, to be right here, now, not Michael. Most people live in fear because we project the past into the future; not Jordan, when he plays ball, he is never anywhere else but on the court. His gift is he is to be completely present.
He famously said, “why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet?” That one line describes what I’m talking about, he isn’t worried about missing the shot, he hasn’t taken it yet.
Why worry about something in the future that most likely won’t happen.
He doesn’t allow anything he can’t control — the future or the possibiliy of missing a game changing shot — to enter his mind and dictate his throw. His gift — there are many — but the one that distinguishes him from other players is a disciplined mind, to be present. That takes mental control. Failure isn’t something to fear, because, for Jordan, it isn’t an option.
His definiteness of purpose — to win the game — he glides down the court, looking more like a superhero than anything I’ve ever seen in those Marvel movies. No special effects required, just Mike and the ball.
According to Napoleon Hill, who wrote the groundbreaking book, Think and Grow Rich definiteness of purpose means being clear on what you want most. It is a clear understanding of a goal, and a burning desire to achieve it.
What Jordan wants most is to win. His definiteness of purpose is evident in every move he makes on the court.
He is superhuman, godlike, because he is the one thing most of us struggle to be: present.
During game two of the 1986 conference versus the Celtics, Jordan sunk 16 free throws out of 18. The Celtics went on to win the game, but Jordan scored 63 points in that one single playoff game. He was non-stop. Larry Bird said about that particular game, “I’ve never seen anything like that before or after. That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there, that was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
He isn’t thinking about anything except getting the ball — currently in his hands — through the net. He is so agile as if the basketball is an extension of his soul, and he knows how to get part of himself through the net every single time.
He is possessed by something otherworldly when he is on the court; it is called presence.
And most of us mortals lack a continued sense of presence.
When you are at peace you know you have it.
You can’t take your eyes off him. So many want to be like Mike, because Mike is here — now — living in the zone, committed to every move, every moment.
Like a basketball Buddha, he gets it.
People love to watch others do something they love, with their whole being.
You can feel it when someone is present in their work, passion, or on the court. The observer feels the aliveness. Even as an observer, it’s calming watching a person doing something to such a degree you feel their being through the flow they’re creating.
Just like watching great athletes, we observe this when watching great musicians or artists of any kind.
I have that feeling when writing. When I’m in a flow state, I don’t notice anything around me — my family asking for things, a dog barking, or the doorbell ringing.
I’m in the zone. It’s a great sensation.
When you are deeply involved with a task you love (you’ll know it because you feel free and euphoric), hours disappear in what seems like minutes. It is a beautiful thing to observe, but even better to experience.
Presence is addictive.
When we witness Jordan playing basketball, in the zone, it is addictive to watch because we see his presence on the court. It is so palpable we feel like we are a part of it.
It is beautiful.
All eyes on Jordan. The greatest player in the game.
- Hold yourself to the highest standard.
- Commitment is what it takes to reach any goal.
- Have a definite, clear goal. Jordan’s specific goal was winning a championship. The Bulls won six (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998).
- Be present. Don’t think about missing a shot you haven’t taken. When you take it, believe it will go in.
- Jordan is never anywhere else except where he is. He isn’t focused on the past or the future, but now.
- Always give your best. Give it everything you’ve got.
- Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give up.
- Jordan understands whoever wants is more, that’s who wins.
- Failure isn’t an option. It doesn’t enter the equation when he wants to win.
- Work hard. “Nobody will ever work as hard as I work.” — Jordan
- Don’t allow what you can’t control to enter your head. It is a waste of energy and takes from what you are doing at the moment.
Jessica is a writer, an online entrepreneur, and a recovering Type A personality. She lives in Los Angeles with her extrovert daughter, two dogs, and two cats.