Level Up: Aiming for the Best Version of Yourself

Competition is about winning, and it is everywhere. Not only in sports, competition is also present in other fields. May it be business, in the corporate world, and many more.  

A competitive person is always up for this. Some will reach the top. But what happens next will depend on the person’s heart. Some will stay at the top. And that is ok. While some would still look up and try to see the higher achievements to reach.  

In 2006, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers played against the Toronto Raptors. Kobe had red-hot scoring during this game. Too hot, that he scored 81 points. This was the second highest number of points scored in a single basketball game. The highest score is still held by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 single-game points.  

But this is already the highest single-game points held by a guard. Coincidently this used to be a record held by Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls. This was when he scored 69 points against the Boston Celtics. Why was this a coincidence? Because both teams were coached by the same person. And that is Phil Jackson.  

In an interesting inside story, Phil Jackson discussed this during an interview. He said when Kobe Bryant scored 69 points he wanted him to stop. And for 2 reasons. One, he wanted to preserve Bryant for the next game and give him some rest. Two, out of his respect for Michael Jordan and the record he holds. 

So during the huddle he asked Bryant if he can still play. Kobe, knowing Coach Phil’s intentions said, he wanted to play some more. And more did he really play as eventually, he scored 81 points. Not only did Bryant break Jordan’s record. He also set his own scoring record.   Indeed, being great is a worthy goal. But what separates the winners from champions is the desire to become greater. Running that extra mile. Reaching for what’s higher when you reach the top.  

A rank and file position has a specialist. For example, The police have a bomb squad. Doctors have cardiologists, immunologists, etc. Dentists have experienced orthodontists. And Scientists have Chemists, Biologists, etc.  

Here are some practical ways to move from good to great:

#1 Get Advanced Studies  

This one is not so practical. However, if you want to go to the next level of your educational attainment this is the way to go. From general medicine, a doctor is required to get additional degrees should you wish to be a specialist.  

A college graduate can go to the next level and get a Master’s degree. This will help you gain specialized knowledge in your chosen field. This shows your dedication to further enhance your expertise. You can use this to become more competitive in your chosen field.  

#2 Find a Place Where You Can Be the Best   

This is where you search for your element; and when you find it, it’s like a gem. This is about finding a field where you can be at your best. Taking your skills to a workplace where you can make the most impact. A good example is Australian actor Hugh Jackman.  

Hugh used to be an Instructor, teaching Physical Education. Can you imagine Wolverine as your kid’s P.E. Teacher? Kidding aside, he used to be a good one. With his physique and commanding presence you would know that his students love him.  

But he got attracted to acting and felt he can be better at it. So he took the first step by enrolling himself in a Theater School. Leaving behind a life of teaching sports and physical fitness, he became a great movie actor. Eventually becoming one of Marvel X-Men’s iconic superhero characters.  

#3 Always Go the Extra Mile  

This does not need any special skills. No need for further education. No need for any title or job position. It only needs your heart.   When everyone else is doing good, or even doing their best, but you give some more. This is when you stand out and get recognized. Here it is your work that will speak for you because of results and feedback from others.

Eventually, the bosses will know about this unknown employee. Then suddenly gets promoted and becomes popular. The good employee has just become one of the greats.   

During the 1995 NBA Season, forward Dennis Rodman joined the Chicago Bulls. With All-Star players Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, they formed one of the best teams in basketball history. Winning 3 championships together, and 72 wins out of 82 games. But what separated him from the 2 was his work ethic.  

Like Jordan, Pippen and the rest of the Bulls Rodman would hit lift weights before the game. But after the game, when everyone is gone and resting, who would spend one more hour on the exercise bike. And he would bike as fast as his legs are able.  

While most players would focus on their offense, Rodman studies both offense and defense. He gave more focus to studying his defense versus the next opponent’s offense. And like no other player, he always requests the shot chart of the opponent’s star player. He studies where they miss their shots and where the ball would fall. So when the player misses a shot, he would know where to get the rebound.  

These little extra things that Rodman did make him one of the greatest defensive players of all time. From 1991 to 1998 he led the NBA each year in rebounding with an awesome 16.64 rebounds per game. He even scored 20+ rebounds in some games. He also earned Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1990 and 1992. Now he is also enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.  

The journey from being good to great does not come easy. It has a high price to pay. You have to pay your dues. But when you do, the reward is exponential. You don’t even have to demand the reward. It will naturally come.

Peter Simpson

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