It’s not every day an NBA player ignites a conversation about the definition of accomplishment, but this did occur two weeks ago at a post-game press conference.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, an NBA champion, and 2x MVP, was answering questions from reporters after his team was eliminated from the playoffs. One journalist asked Giannis, “Would you consider the season a failure?” You can check out his reaction below.
What I enjoyed about Mr. Antetokounmpo’s response was that he took a step back in the moment.
In many instances, emotions can take over and cause a far less coherent use of language. He cleverly collected himself and said, “I don’t want to make this personal,” and then finished delivering his take.
His reply felt nuanced, and the perspective from a personal athlete should cause all who heard it to reflect.
Even for the most talented individuals, thinking they will win yearly isn’t realistic. The occupation doesn’t matter; the best individuals and organizations tend to secure the top prize repeatedly.
This reality suggests most of us will not get the ultimate award in our profession throughout our career, never mind winning it each year.
Are we then to say it was all for nothing? What one defines as success depends on the context of various factors. For someone holding a blue-collar job for twenty years and retiring with a pension, in most societies’ eyes would seem to qualify as an achievement.
While someone who works in the white-collar sector might have a radically different viewpoint on the matter.
The NBA post-game show on TNT, which includes former NBA players Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley, along with studio host Ernie Johnson also discussed Mr. Antetokounmpo’s reaction. You check out their feedback below.
Shaquille O’Neal’s retort was very intriguing for me because I, too, served in the military.
For some individuals, Mr. O’Neal’s take might feel harsh for those with limited exposure to a militaristic state of mind. When I was in the Navy, we had a running joke that many of the policies and procedures we were ordered to follow had been written in blood.
The reasoning being someone either died or was maimed. Thus, a new procedure was implemented to avoid such an occurrence.
When the likelihood of premature death increases based on your job, achievement becomes binary. Evading one’s demise in high-risk situations requires an individual to be alert to the problem. I believe the crux of Shaq’s point comes from those circumstances.
However, most of us will not work in those fields, so we can question the wisdom of thinking about it in an extreme way.
Charles Barkley’s opinion felt the healthiest for me. Taking in the starting point of where he began as an individual and considering everything, he concluded he’s done well in life.
For the vast majority of us, we would arrive at a similar judgment.
Where many people run into trouble comes with the comparisons. One may look at a celebrity, colleague, or friend/family member and wonder, “How come I cannot have the same level of success as them?”
In truth, you are not asking the right question. It’s better to contemplate what variables lead to an individual being at the top of the mountain?
You usually find many factors that one individual simply cannot control. The glaring question becomes, why would I punish myself for falling short if I could not regulate every single component of greatness?
It’s far better to give your best try and accept the result. You fought like hell and reached the limit of your capacity; there is no shame in that outcome.
Living your life under the expectations of another individual will probably not work out too well in the end. One cannot control their family of origin, genetics, birthplace, the value of developing human capital in your culture, and the list could continue.
Whether we like it or not, becoming the champion in any arena depends on many factors outside our grasp. Acting as if we do have grand control will eventually lead to a miserable existence.
It’s better to compete at your highest level and live with whatever happens.
What do you think about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s definition of success?
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!