On Tuesday night I was just about having a heart attack watching the end of Game 6 in the NBA playoffs. Cleveland Cavaliers vs the Golden State Warriors.
I'm not a huge sports fan but I do love basketball. It's a sport I can understand. This is probably because I cheered for basketball for seven years. Oh yes... 8th grade, all 4 years of high school, and 2 years in college. But we'll cover some life lessons I learned from cheerleading another day.
For now, back to basketball. The other thing you need to know about my emotional involvement with this particular game is that I grew up about an hour south of Cleveland. I've been a Cavs fan my entire life and my social media feeds have been bursting throughout this entire series.
Game 6 was crucial. If the Cavs lose, it's over. If they win, they still have to win Game 7 to win the series. It was a close game and the last few minutes were a roller coaster of hope and disappointment.
What does this have to do with being creative and bringing your project into the world?
1. Success requires individual skills and team skills.
You have to be playing offense and defense as a team with coordinated plays, but when it's time to get points the individual player must be able to shoot and swish. Shoot. And Swish. Shoot Shoot and Swish. Whoa- sorry. Accidentally went into auto-cheerleading mode ;)
Each person must practice and put in the time to develop their talent. Melissa McCarthy must be able to hit her version of a 3 pointer - give her funniest performance when the sun is setting, the crew is about to hit overtime, and the pressure is on from the director and the producers. Each member of your improv team must be able to work as a group yet also be individually hilarious at just the right time.
When you're looking for collaborators, find people who have that balance of being individually excellent but also team oriented. People who will be committed to the end goal of producing the best short film possible. When asked about the possibility of being awarded MVP even if the Cavs lost the series, LeBron James said: “I wouldn’t feel good about it at all. At the end of the day I’m here to win a team prize, and that’s to win a championship, not an individual prize.”
2. Every shot counts, not just the ones right before the buzzer.
In the last few minutes of this game, the Warriors were ahead by about 10 points. The Cavs attempted several 3-pointers. And... the ball made a nice long arc into air that was not surrounded by net. GUH! It was very natural to start adding up the missed shots and think - if they had hit those, we would be closer. Or tied. Or winning!
But the truth is, they had plenty of time throughout the game to score points. Why does a potential basket at the end of the game feel so much more important? Because it's easier for our brains to comprehend a deadline when it's closer. When it feels like you have only a few limited opportunities to earn points, the stakes are higher and we care more.
Thinking about your current projects, where can you care to do your very best now even though you don't have a deadline looming? Where can you rack up points now so that later you'll already be 'winning'? Maybe it's getting your writing portfolio together or creating a website where people can find you.
3. Stay focused and play hard until it's officially over.
Sports people talk about mindset and positive thinking, too- it's not just for the self-help set! Sports people just have different labels for it: mind of a champion, character, heart, will to win. Basketball is a fast game and it is possible to come back quickly to win. But it takes the right mindset to cut through the stress and get the points in that highly charged situation. (See #1, must have skills.)
With just 30 seconds left on the clock, I was proud to see my Cleveland Cavaliers attempting 3-pointers and trying their best to get the ball back to take another shot. Even the announcers noticed and talked about how they played hard until the end. In addition to being behind most of the game, the Cavs were also lacking key players due to injuries. Every person on the team had to look beyond those setbacks, rise up, and do their very best until absolute last second.
What's holding you back right now? The creative world is full of ambiguities and subjective criticism. Where can you change your view to focus on what you do have and how you can make the most of it? Where can you play hard until the last moment?
Thank you for reading. Let me know in the comments - how will you use these 3 creative life lessons?
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Creative Life Ambassador