June 1, 2022

The 7 Truths to Elevate Your Performance

When he retires - whenever that is - Kevin Durant will go down as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. His combination of skills, size, and athleticism is something the league has never seen before.

But, to me, the skill that elevates him to a world-class level is his mindset. He has become one of the most interesting athletes to observe and study.

Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics have found a way to stifle him in the first round of the playoffs and could sweep Durant and the Nets tonight. So, just in case he begins his offseason early, here are 7 truths that KD embraces that could elevate your performance too: 

1. Who you are is not defined by your performance

When your identity is wrapped up in the results, you live and die with every missed shot and the losses eat at you long after the game is over.

This was Durant in 2013 when he was playing with Oklahoma City:

"Last year, I was obsessed with [winning a title]. Like, I wasn't going to sleep because I wanted to win so bad. I was screaming at my teammates, at the refs, at the coaches. I got mad because I thought 'if we have a bad game here, we're not going to win a championship.' I was losing myself over what people thought, what other people thought. So I'm not going to let that overtake my mind."

2. Intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation

If you only care about the result at the end, you will burn out along the way. The sure way to sustain your motivation over the long haul is to do it because you love the activity.

“Us winning a title, that would be amazing. That would be incredible. But that’s not the only reason why I play basketball. I want to develop every day and I truly like this activity, you know what I’m saying? I like getting up knowing that I’m going to go play, and that’s really it for me. The championship and scoring 30 and the level that I expect to be at, that’s because I work to get there, but I just simply like the activity.”

3. Love skill-building more than the outcomes

Don't just chase the accolades. There is no shortcut to success. Become a craftsman and develop the skills necessary to accomplish what you're pursuing.

Oklahoma City GM, Sam Presti, talked about Durant's focus on the process:

"The thing that always impressed me about Kevin was that his wisdom about the work itself was so far advanced for his age when he first got started in the NBA in 2007. He seemed to understand that he may not see the immediate gratification from the time he put the work in that particular day, week, month or year, and he was at ease with that trade-off.

4. Be more concerned with who you are becoming than what you achieve

Focus on becoming not only the type of person who can accomplish the things you want, but the type of person you can be satisfied with when it's all over.

"I don’t want to spend the last three, four years of my career just searching for something, rather than playing for the love, the joy, just to win. If I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted, and I’m good with myself and I may be 18 years in, I’ll call it. But I’m not going to sit around for two or three extra years just to try to get more points or get more accolades."

5. Don't get distracted by comparison.

When you know who you are and what you bring, you can focus on being the best version of yourself in every situation.

“When I play basketball, it’s not just for winning championships or beating LeBron or [being] the best. I feel like I’m playing against the game, whatever the game is that night, that’s my goal, and whoever I’m playing against, I respect everybody I play against, but it’s way bigger than them...Before, I used to worry about expectations, but now, I’m solidified and confident in what I bring. I just try to focus on me the most as I can, the best I can.”

6. Accept where you are on the path to where you're headed

You are a work in progress, not a finished product. It's great that you want to grow, but also accept where you are.

“We’re all going to evolve and change, no matter what. I got a long way to go to keep evolving as a human being, but I like where I am at this point...I’m still fine-tuning my movements out here as a human being.”

7. Relax and surrender your skills to instincts

Fall in the love with the activity, build the skills, accept where you are, know who you are, stay focused, then relax and let all that hard work overflow in the biggest moments.

"I mean, of course I want to win it, but I'm not obsessed with it. I'm going to put in the work to help my team, but I'm not going to be obsessed with it because that's when I compromise myself, and most of the time it doesn't work out."

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