World Championship Training Camp Part 1

Possibilities open up to us when we actively cultivate accountability and community.

How would your life transform if you were living in a world championship training camp?

This inspired question comes from the application for Josh Waitzkin’s Peak Performance Training program:

If you are a leader in your field or potential world-changer and would like to be considered as a peak performance coaching candidate, please apply here. Please do not apply unless you are prepared to live qualitatively, as if within a world championship training camp.

What might such a life look like? What are the key elements to living at such a high standard?  

Michael Jordan’s Poem

One unique world championship moment reveals what we might be aiming towards. From Roland Lazenby’s book Michael Jordan: The Life:

“Phil had this great moment,” Steve Kerr explained. “It was the last day of the regular season and he told us, ‘Tomorrow, at practice, I want everybody to write down a few words about this experience you’ve had with this team… Michael brought something and it was a poem that he wrote about the team.”

It was the ultimate triumph of Jackson’s effort over the years. Jordan, the game’s angry man and all-time badass, had written a poem. “It was shocking,” Kerr recalled. “What happened was, every guy ended up saying something, whether they read something or said something.

And so what he did was after each guy spoke, whoever had written something down had to crumple up the paper and put it into a big coffee can. It was like a Folgers can. Then when everybody was done, he lit a match and he lit the contents on fire in the coffee can. The lights were out and there was this glow in the room. And it was like, ‘All those memories that you guys just talked about, those are ours and nobody else is gonna see.’ He didn’t say that, but it was the metaphor. This is ours and they’re gone and they’ll forever live within us and nobody else will ever see ’em.”

Paper on fire in a can

“Michael’s poem was, what does this mean to you? What does this experience mean to you and where have you been and where are you going? It was so cool. In a legacy of powerful moments that Phil, you know, left with us, that was by far the most powerful one. I’ll never forget it. I was crying. A lot of guys were shedding tears.”

“It wasn’t just Michael,” Kerr said. “It was the experience. We all knew that we were living through this era that was so special and we were so lucky to be a part of it. There were so many players and athletes and people who would have killed to have been a part of that. We were so lucky to have been a part of it, to go through this run, and it was ending. And we knew how special it was.”

Nothing great stays solo for very long. Everywhere you look you will find teams. Make one or join one.

A New Performance Coefficient

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been exploring how to apply neuroscience based insights alongside a deepening understanding of what makes any of us tick. These have been fun experiments that have demonstrated a lot of potential, but it feels like just scratching the surface of possibility.

So much of the science and protocols supporting performance are focused on individual excellence and skill acquisition. The missing ingredients seem to be accountability and community. Understandably so, as these are challenging factors to isolate and quantify. After all, what performance coefficient should be applied when Michael Jordan speaks from his heart about how much he values you as a teammate?

Life seems made for these moments in which we feel seen, appreciated, and celebrated. The best measure of a project’s genuine success is the strength and quality of the relationships developed along the way. That is life working at its best.

What then might our world championship training camp look like?

It definitely needs to be something that we strive to become part of—something so that when we look back, we will know how special it was. What are you working on? Maybe there is something you are working towards that will inspire others to join.

Maybe you’ll find something here among the projects that we are publicly sharing.

Why World Championship caliber? This feels like a pivotal time in the world and in our lives. That there might be some kind of moment coming for each of us that will require our best. Getting ready and being there for each other feels like the right way to prepare.

You don’t stay in training camp forever. The season starts, the fight looms, the challenge begins. Preceding all that is the time to give one’s all. As Mohammed Ali put it:

“I hated every minute of training but I said, ‘Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

When the time comes, who is going to stand with you and speak from their heart to tell you how much they value you as a teammate?

Two hands gripping each other as they climb an obstacle course

Please check out the community section of Always Invert for additional comments and supporting materials about this week’s topic and the other projects we are tackling.

Thanks to Andrew Amunategui, Brian Hart, Mike Kucharski, Glenn McWhinney, and Matt Murphy for reading drafts of this.

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