Greatness is something many of us desire. Being at the top of our field, contributing significantly to the world or, as cliche as it may sound – being the greatest version of ourselves. But greatness is often overly romanticised, and the way we view it is rather different from the actual reality of it. When we think of greatness, it has a certain glamour to it, it makes us think of the end goal and finally reaching it. But greatness isn’t a status, it’s a product of the longevity of behaviour.
The popular Netflix docuseries, ‘The Last Dance’, chronicles the final year of the legendary Chicago Bulls team and focuses on the life & career of basketball legend Michael Jordan. The series offers viewers a profound insight into the complexities of Jordan’s character. Beyond basketball greatness, the series imparts several lessons on the concept of greatness in general and Jordan’s approach to achieving it.
Michael Jordan is often considered the greatest basketball player of all time, and to some, even the greatest sports figure of all time, so he would know a thing or two about greatness. And when I say ‘a thing or two’, it might as well be literal, because Jordan has said multiple times, that the thing that separates him from everyone else, was hard work and dedication. Of course natural talent would play a huge role in it as well, but someone who was as naturally talented as Jordan without the hard work and dedication he had, are not even comparable.
The series showcases the relentless, disciplined and ultra competitive nature of his attitude. But it also shows us how that can sometimes go too far as well. Jordan was often feared by his peers and teammates and was often hard to get along with because of his extremely high standards and arrogance. In one of the episodes, Kobe Bryant, who is widely considered to be Jordan’s protege, makes an appearance, this is relevant because Bryant was instilled with that same competitive nature, discipline & arrogance that Jordan had.
But Bryant often talked about how a key factor to growing and evolving for him was letting go of that arrogance and not being so individualistic and instead embracing his teammates and their own individual strengths. Bryant’s change in attitude and growth in character eventually enabled him to win 2 more championships and Jordan has said that this same attitude would have perhaps made his career slightly better if anything.
This clearly shows us that even those who are considered the greatest in their field still believe they could have done things differently, which tells us that there is no specific path to greatness, but the evolution of that path is integral. Which means that the evolution of our approach to greatness needs to evolve as well.
So the next time we think of greatness, or our end goal, or being the best version of ourselves, let’s try and focus on the beginning of that journey and not solely the end result. Let the hard work & discipline that the end goal requires, be our goal. Having a clear end goal in our minds to aim for is definitely helpful and advisable. but when we think of hard work, discipline & a refusal to give up as our goal and end result, then our original end result now becomes a byproduct of who we are.
Written by Ben Joshua
Life Focus Society
Culture Unraveled is an initiative of Life Focus Society