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motivation

Learn To Motivate Yourself Like Michael Jordan

The Last Dance is the docuseries currently showing on Netflix which gives new insights into the final NBA season of the Chicago Bulls Championship winning team.

The team that some dubbed The Beatles” was one of the most, if not, the most dominant team in sports history at the time, and watching the behind the scenes footage is spellbinding!

Titled The Last Dance, coined, because everyone knew this was the last time this current group of players would be together due to management decisions, which you get to learn more about in the programmes.

But it was the conversations and sound bites around Michael Jordan’s mindset that had me transfixed and the way in which he motives himself to play better is extraordinary, but possible to learn and I wanted to share this idea so you, the athlete can give it a go and see how it affects your performance.

During lockdown, you can at least, practice training your mind to think along these lines.

Jordan was known for his competitive nature and two stories stand out for me.

A player for Washington, LeBradford Smith had a great game scoring 37 points against Jordan while Jordan had an off game.

The story goes that Smith said something to MJ (no spoilers) that motivated him for the next game between the two teams the next night. Watch episode 8 to find out what happened.

In another story, a friend of Jordan, a coach from an opposing team, didn’t acknowledge Jordan in a restaurant, an act Jordan took offence to. Jordan had a word with himself and then went out to demolish the team his friend coached.

There are different ways in which you can motivate yourself and the uniqueness of Jordan was to instil an emotion so strong, he would do whatever it takes to perform at a higher level than the opponent.

He needed a reason to go out and kick their butt!

So he would create a reason using anything from newspaper articles to a look or comment to light his fire.

So let’s get down to the psychology of this mindset.

I am not MJ’s mind so I don’t know exactly what he thinks, but I can apply theory to help you create the same mindset.

Your thoughts are made up of movies or pictures, words and sounds and from these thoughts, you create an emotion.

So let’s reverse engineer this and start with an emotion asking ourselves, what emotion do you need to create to improve your play against your opponent?

Hatred, revenge, a sense to prove them wrong. A sense to prove to yourself you can beat them?

In MJ’s cause, he talks about revenge being used as a motivator and it’s this motivation that allows him to keep challenging himself to improve and stay on top of his game and be better than his competitors.

The other question is can you bring yourself to think negatively about an opponent?

Of course you can and you can do it no matter level you play at!

You can do it now. Think of an opponent that’s got the better of you in the past, and attach a sense of revenge to that thought.

Now you think about their weaknesses. What can you exploit? What can you take advantage of?

You now start to create a new vision, a new thought which you continue to think about that allows your mind to adjust and when you get the opportunity, you play with that emotion attached to the game.

Improving your performance is much more than improving your physical and technical ability and this exercise gives you an idea of how quickly you can improve your performance just by changing your thoughts.


Mike is a Master Mental Performance Specialist helping athletes all around the world to improve their performance quickly. Subscribe below to be notified of new blogs.

By Mike Nichols

Insights and Masterful mental performance coaching for the football (soccer) and basketball player

One reply on “Learn To Motivate Yourself Like Michael Jordan”

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