"If I miss a shot, so what?"

In the book "Driven from Within," Michael Jordan talks about his crunch time mentality:

If I miss a shot, so what? Maybe even a shot that could have won a game. I can deal with that. If I don't miss the shot, then I don't miss it -- we win. I can rationalize the fact that there are only two outcomes: You either make it, or you miss it. I could think that way because I knew I had earned the opportunity to take that shot.

I had put in all the work, not only in that particular game, but in practice every day. If I missed then it wasn't meant to be. That simple. It wasn't because the effort wasn't there. It wasn't because I couldn't make the shot, because I had taken the same shot many times in every situation. As soon as the ball went up, there weren't any nerves because I had trained myself for that situation.

I was as prepared as I could possibly be for that moment. I couldn't go back and practice a little harder. I knew I had done the right things to prepare myself for that situation. One way or another, I knew I was prepared to be successful. Now, if you know you haven't prepared correctly, or you know you haven't worked hard enough, that's when other thoughts and emotions creep into your mind. That's stress. That's fear.

It's the same process for doing anything, anywhere in life no matter how big or small the stage. ... If you are confident you have done everything possible to prepare yourself, then there is nothing to fear.

Four thoughts:

  • I like this best as an argument for preparation, as opposed to proof of what works in crunch time.

  • That "it wasn't meant to be," is thick with meaning and fascinating. There's a whole worldview in that one half line.

  • This is the kind of thinking that drove the greatest ever -- clearly this worked for him. But I wonder if this is also insight into how Jordan has not been a champion of inspiring and leading players from the front office. Most players, even incredibly hardworking ones, of which there are many in today's NBA, simply should not think like him. (Chris Paul doesn't, and that's a good thing.) In fact, you could argue that nobody should go into crunch time knowing who will shoot. The guy the defense leaves open, even if he's not the hardest working guy on the team, may not have "earned" the shot in the traditional way, but he's still the most likely to make it, simply because he's open. I know a lot of smart people disagree with me, including Kobe Bryant, who has some experience in this area, but while big decisions may be things you earn, big shots ought to go to whoever's best positioned to make the bucket, which is seldom the double-teamed guy.

  • It's nice to be able to simply move on from stressful events. That is, literally, testosterone speaking. The ability to put past events behind you is associated with high testosterone. (You have to take an hour and listen to this whole thing.)