Keep Going! Part 5

“The rewards of an investment are achieved through patience and consistency.” – Anonymous

Investing for Performance 

Recent NBA champion LeBron James is a lulu of professional athletes. At 35, when most players are in decline, James seems to have shifted into a higher gear. Since the NBA restarted to the final whistle of the NBA finals, LeBron elevated his game, leaving no doubt that he was the MVP of the NBA Finals. 

At a stage in his career where he could shift to neutral and coast to the finish, LeBron James continues to exceed expectations. A few days after winning his 4th NBA Championship ring, he was back in the gym training and getting his body in optimum shape for another season. His goal is the same: win another championship. To perform consistently at such a high level requires a body that is at its best. And LeBron has spared no expense investing in body conditioning. According to Business Insider, he spends roughly $1 million each year on his body! That investment has paid off handsomely in the form of 17 seasons (and counting), 10 NBA Finals appearances, 4 Finals MVP honors, and 4 NBA Championships. And we are all witnesses. 

Lest we think LeBron only invests in himself, in 2018, he opened the I Promise School. Its aim is to help students considered unredeemable educationally by providing a learning model that will position them for success. And so far, the results have been promising. An article in the New York Times quoted school principal, Brandi Davis, “We are reigniting dreams that were extinguished.” This investment in the future will exist long after LeBron’s days in the spotlight are gone. 

Investment guru Warren Buffer said, “If you aren’t thinking of owning a stock for ten years, don’t even think of owning it for ten minutes.” It’s sound advice for life as well. To keep going, the investments we make today determine the dividends we gain in the future. In a time when looking for quick results trends, playing the long game by making worthwhile investments is always a sure win. 

This has been a volatile year. The ups and downs resemble the stock market. But even in volatile circumstances, making mental, physical, and relational investments are the best way to maintain traction as you keep going. Let’s look at each one:

Mental

No one sustains progress without investing in their mental infrastructure. Our minds can be our biggest ally or our worst enemy. Negative thinking can sink us faster than quicksand. With that in mind, how do we invest to ensure our mind is our greatest ally? 

Focus on what you feed your mind on a consistent basis. If you eat healthy food once a week but indulge in junk food for the rest of it, chances are the effects of healthy eating will be nullified. There is too much of a gap between the healthy eating sessions. The same applies to the mind. Your life rises or falls by what you consistently feed your mind. 

Also, consider where you choose to sit mentally. A seat is where you are comfortable and can rest your weight. Your mind needs places that provide needed rest and recovery each day. Such a place has three unique advantages. First, it provides a place for reflection. I compare reflection to sitting in a tub and taking a hot bath. Besides getting clean, a bath increases blood oxygenation and allows easier flow. It also helps to improve immunity. Similarly, reflection builds our immunity to toxic thoughts, shines a light on areas of improvement, and allows healthy thoughts to flow better through our minds. Second, it will enable you to perform a daily mental dump, which prevents mental baggage and undue stress. Writing your thoughts can at times be therapeutic to your mind. And third, it opens the door to understand your mental mapping. Similar to GPS, forensic science professor Dr. Katherine Ramsland says our minds have a CPS (Cognitive Positioning System). She explains that our CPS frames the way we see our world around us.  Understanding your mental mapping brings the question, Why do I think the way I do? to light and aids in identifying biases that influence decision making and help break thought patterns holding you back. The result will be mental buoyancy to keep you afloat in the storms of life.

Physical 

At the beginning of the pandemic, when life as we were accustomed to shuttered, it was tempting to plop myself on the couch and be sulked by what was happening. Binge-watching and binge-eating almost became my new normal. That approach and attitude towards life would have incurred terrible consequences down the road. Thankfully it was interrupted by a question that popped into my mind, What physical shape would I like to be in 6 months from now (in October)? I had no idea how the environmental landscape would be, but I chose not to use the current environment as an excuse to slack on my exercise. 

As we enter the winter season, you might be tempted to hibernate physically. The question you could ask yourself is, What physical shape would I like to be in six months from now (in April)? This question is crucial to maintain a vision for your physical state of health. In any area of life, a vision keeps your hopes and dreams alive despite the times you live in. Like a magnet, it attracts good habits that align with what you want to see down the road and repels bad ones. In this instance, such habits would be exercise and eating healthy foods. If we allow our current season instead of our vision to dictate our habits, the season will change but we may not like the rewards of those habits. Invest your time and energy in a vision and habits that will put you in the best physical shape. 

Relational

No area has been tested more in this pandemic than relationships. The stress and strain of the pandemic have brought out the best or worst in people. And out of it, relationships have either soured or soared. 

Relationships need nurturing, and nourishment just like plants do. They need the air of encouragement, the water of appreciation, and the light of transparency that builds trust. And they necessitate the fertilizer of quality time and the soil of frequency. Without them, relationships wither under the heat of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, aptly dubbed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by relationships expert Dr. John Gottman. 

Final thought: You may not get to breathe the rarefied air of being the best in the world as LeBron James in sports or Warren Buffet in the stock market. But by using your time, energy, and the financial resources you have to make mental, physical, and relational investments, you too can reignite dreams that may have been extinguished and keep going.

Keep on keeping on.

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