I’m not too sure how everyone else gets motivation, but I sure do get a lot from sports stories. Some people may see sports stories as chicken soup, survivor biases or marketing ploys, but I always view them as the purest form of motivational fuel for myself.
Sure, I can be motivated internally by want, by love, by fear, by hate and more, but I often find the external motivation of sports stories leaving me the most burning desire to be great. Sports is one of the great inventions in our world, because in this “microcosm” of rules of competition that athletes obey, we see excellence, consistency, bravery, heart and so much more. It is one of the greatest allegories for real-life as I know it.
Here are some of my greatest motivations:
Identity - Jaylen Brown, Basketball
I identify with Jaylen Brown a lot. Being my favorite player since he entered the league, he is a great example of “don’t mistake silence for weakness”. Although a level-headed dude that is quiet, he makes it known he is not someone to be messed with through his violent dunks and spectacular play.
“Hone the Pressure. It makes Diamonds.”
What I learned from him is that I can be quiet, but I should never compromise my values and identity. In 2018 - 2019, the Celtics were not doing well and Jaylen Brown was demoted to a lesser role after a bad start to the season. He also took on undue criticisms from team leader Kyrie Irving. However, he never lashed out. He stayed quiet, he worked and he grinded. Now this season, he is one of the most efficient wings on the floor, dominating people with his dunks. Inspirational. The lesson is: keep your head down in a storm, the only way is through. #FreeTheBamboo
Heart - Isaiah Thomas, Basketball
Man. Isaiah Thomas. Tiniest dude on the court. Biggest heart in the arena. This story is simple but amazing. Isaiah Thomas was a 60th draft pick bounced around the league until the Celtics picked him up and believed in him. The smallest body on the court at 1.75m, Isaiah led the Celtics to dominance by taking hit after hit on layups.
“It’s Genuine Love.”
In 2017 - 2018, this man led the Celtics to the playoffs and played his heart out. His sister tragically passed away in a car accident, but Isaiah kept playing and kept playing. When it was all said and done, Isaiah had a severe hip injury, but propelled the Celtics to heights they never reached before - Eastern Conference Finals. IT was then traded away to another team. The results were not pretty for this man, but Celtics fans adore him for his commitment and love for the city. During a hard time in my life, Isaiah showed me the courage to love what you have with your whole heart.
A video showing how much Isaiah means to his teammates, his coach and all us Celtics fans.
Acceptance - Jeremy Lin, Basketball
This story isn’t about Linsanity. It’s from a little snippet of an interview Jeremy did with a Chinese TV chanel about his move to CBA from NBA. For a lot of Jeremy fans, it was saddening to see him choked up in the interview, talking about the very likely possibility he’s done in the NBA. However this little snippet in the interview was wholesome.
Jeremy’s words translated into English roughly make: “As you grow older, you start to understand there are a lot more things than you imagined that you can’t control. For example, was I really that much worse in Toronto than in New York? I was the same player; I had the same talent; I trained just as hard. But the results in Toronto and New York were completely different. So after this career of mine, I cannot look back and blame myself. Before Linsanity, when Coach D’antoni told me that I was starting next game, I almost told him that I don’t want to do it because I was afraid. But I fought myself and did it. (And then Linsanity happened) [So now I am able to tell myself I did my best, and I accept what is.]”
Jeremy’s story told me it was ok to accept the flaws we have in life. If he could make peace with such a huge loss, than I can do it with the flaws in my life. To learn how to accept flaws is to turn hardships into mere imperfections.
Consistency - Eliud Kipchoge, Running
As I run more, I’ve also learned about a great runner - Eliud Kipchoge, the first marathon runner to finish a marathon in under 2 hours. Through watching his breaking 2 hours race and documentaries about him, I learned of Eliud’s persistence, consistency and humbleness. When I first learned about him, it was so refreshing as his persona is completely different from the basketball personas that commonly exemplify dominance and superconfidence.
“Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions.”
To put Eliud’s marathon feat into perspective, no man has ever done it before. The pacers that ran his pace with him all only ran around 5 km before they were subbed out. Eliud ran 42 km. Behind this endeavor was Eliud training for this marathon for 3 years. Day in. Day out. To complete this feat, Eliud had to have perfect running form, the ability to remain motivated for 3 years and the endurance of pain throughout the marathon.
Love - Matt from Yes Theory, Triathlon
Last, but not least. Matt from Yes Theory raced in an Iron Man. His story through their video production showed me the power of having friends on your journey. The power of the care of others propelled him to new heights in the video. And sometimes, friends just have more perspective than you do and put things into perspective when you’re down. Here’s what Matt’s coach said to him when he wanted to quit the Iron Man:
“The construct that we’ve created our personalities around is so strong, that you have to do something extreme to be able to transcend that. Because we’re so engrained with our personalities and we believe that that’s who we are only. When you do something of an extreme nature, like to the extent of an Iron Man, then you get to transcend that, you get to see what sits below that surface. You get to see that you actually have a choice, that there’s something even more than who you pertain to be. And whilst we are really attached to who we are as individuals, there’s also so much more to life if we have that freedom of choice.”