[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Today’s post illustrates yesterday’s model instead of introducing a new one. It’s one of my favorite illustrations from my leadership seminar.
It shows that with flexibility in your beliefs and understanding your emotions you can bring anything to your life that anyone else can bring to theirs.
Winning an NBA championship
Say you want to win an NBA championship. What exactly do you want? It’s not possession of the trophy, which is just a physical object. It’s not even necessarily to shoot a game-winning basket, since at most only one player gets to do that. It’s a team effort. The coach doesn’t play at all and he deserves credit.
I believe what you want in winning an NBA championship is the emotional reward you get from winning. That feeling comes from all the effort you put into it, the recognition of your peers, and so on. I believe the value of winning comes from that emotional reward. Would you want to win if you didn’t get any feeling of emotional reward?
I’ve never won an NBA championship, so I don’t know what it feels like. I’ve only seen players win on TV, so I can only go by what it looks like they feel. They look about as happy as I can imagine.
Even then the team shows a big range. If the team has a main star, he’ll look particularly emotional. Some of the bench players you have to search for since the cameras don’t point at them, and they don’t look that emotional. They know the main players on the other team were better than them as individuals, even if their team won.
Still, everyone on the winning team, for the rest of his life, knows he helped win an NBA championship. Everyone he knows will recognize the value of the accomplishment.
A 66-year-old grandmother
So how does a 66-year-old grandmother win an NBA championship?
I’ve written about my mom running her first marathon at 66 years old as a grandmother of five, never having run more than five kilometers at once before training, so I won’t retell it here. Well, I’ll repost my telling the story at The Moth here for quick reference.
Like with an NBA championship, I believe the value of finishing a marathon is in the emotional reward it brings.
Like the feeling of winning and NBA championship, I also don’t know what it feels like for a 66-year-old grandmother to finish except what I saw when my mom finished. Through the fatigue (you have to wait a bit for someone to recover after crossing a finish line for a marathon), she seemed to show a lot of emotional reward.
In fact, as best I could tell, my mom’s emotional reward seemed as great as the NBA players’. Her emotional reward might not have seemed as intense or great as a team leader’s, but it sure looked greater than that of a bench player who hardly played.
Like the NBA players, she will always know she finished that marathon and everyone will recognize the value of her accomplishment.
It seemed to me she got all the value of winning an NBA championship.
You can get the same value
She didn’t do anything you can’t do. Even if you can’t run a marathon you can still do something that will bring that amount of emotional reward. Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt will probably never win NBA championships, after all, and they probably don’t feel like they haven’t accomplished anything.
Whatever your impediment, you can do something to get a comparable reward.
My mom didn’t do anything you can’t do. So like I wrote yesterday,
anything anyone can do, you can too.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book