No matter what you think of LeBron James, you can’t deny he’s an achiever. On Wednesday night, he added to his pile of accomplishments by becoming the fourth leading all-time scorer in the NBA, surpassing Michael Jordan, who many consider to be the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in basketball at any level.
Here’s the moment, in case you missed it.
The record alone would be special enough, but Jordan is James’s childhood idol, the reason why he started playing basketball, the reason he put a wristband on his forearm, the reason he wears the number 23.
But the din around James’s feat was muted, for certain. It’s cast in the pall of a disappointing season, one that will very likely be the first playoff miss for the superstar in 14 years and that will break his incredible streak of eight straight NBA finals.
Despite that, James acknowledged the accomplishment emotionally, albeit barely, after the game, with a quote of a different kind taking center court:
I haven’t really appreciated anything I’ve been able to accomplish because I’m so engulfed in what’s next. How I can continue to get better; how I can help this franchise get back to where it needs to be.
And in the span of the time it takes to sink a three-pointer, James summed up why so many of us sink our own happiness.
We just can’t appreciate what we’ve already accomplished.
I don’t profess to be on the sidelines on this one. I recently wrote an article on the inner narrative I’m constantly battling, the limiting belief I keep fighting:
It’s never enough. I’m never enough.
I’m learning to lower the threshold of what I’m grateful for. The war rages on in my post-corporate life as an entrepreneur, where I have a whole new host of things that I can compare myself to unfairly, an entire universe of self-doubt I can bring upon myself.
When I see that even someone as accomplished as LeBron James falls into the same trap, I admit, it gives me a measure of comfort that it’s not just me.
And it’s not just you.
In doing research for my book Find the Fire I interviewed a host of CEOs in various-sized companies to better understand why some organizations are better at innovating than others. I expected to hear it was the size of their R&D budget, the quality of their R&D talent, or alignment up the chain with innovation as a priority. All of those things rang true.
But the most common answer I heard for why some excel at innovating while others don’t was some form of this: “When we hit a roadblock, we just keep going (when others would stop)–driven by our appreciation of how far we’ve already come.“
We drain our happiness when we fail to appreciate what we have and what we’ve done. Appreciation for what we’ve done quickly ends up in the rearview mirror as we encounter roadblocks in life. It’s critical in these times to keep it all in perspective, to remember the progress you’ve made to date, and to know that all the positive steps you’ve taken have moved you much farther forward then your misstep has moved you backward.
It’s a misstep, not a mis-leap.
The quest for happiness is never-ending and elusive. But the lowest hanging fruit of all may simply be to practice–really commit to, and practice–an attitude of gratitude.
You may never break records like LeBron James, but you can break old, tired habits.