LeBron might be the best player in the NBA, but his team this year hasn't been performing at a high level. Entering the playoffs, the Cavs weren't the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
And yet, after the dust settles, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are heading back to the NBA Finals. For LeBron, it's his eighth straight appearance in the finals, which is two shy of the legendary Bill Russell who reached 10 straight finals.
Lebron not only played all 48 minutes, came one assist shy of a triple-double, and helped deliver another Eastern Conference championship, he also reminded about what it takes to be a peak performer with these four lessons.
1. You don't make excuses for your circumstances.
In his postgame interview, James states that "his team was counted out so many times." However, around the trade deadline, he committed himself to flip a switch and not worry about anything else.
At the end of the day, you can only control your actions and how you choose to respond to situations. It's tempting to blame or let external metrics serve as our excuses, but truly elite people don't let themselves slide into those types of narratives.
We all have obstacles. Some have a lack of funding, a lack of clients, a lack of press, or a lack of time among many other things.
When you start to feel these types of narratives populate your mind, call a timeout and deliver yourself a reality check. Delivering yourself a reality check can simply be executed by coming back to the present moment and assessing what resources you have available and then making the best use of them for now.
2. Leadership is more about your actions than your words.
It's a hostile environment, your second best player isn't there, and your teammates contributed very little in the first half. In sports and in business, sometimes the top performer of the team gets flustered with everyone else and tries to win it by themselves.
More often than not, when this happens, that persons team loses. Even worse, when someone acts like this, they weaken the relationships with their teammates.
However, for top performers like James, it's in this time in particular, that you elevate your teammates as oppose to throwing them under the bus. In game seven, he demonstrated faith in his team by consistently passing them the ball and encouraging them to continue to shoot despite the low percentages and was rewarded at the end.
When times get tough, peak performers find a way to elevate the game of everyone around them.
3. Achieving success is a collection of micro wins.
James mentioned in his postgame interview, "each play is presented with its own set of challenges and all that you can focus on is one possession at a time."
If you're down by 10, you can't go down the court and makeup all the points with one shot. In fact, acting with such haste often leads the team into more mistakes and a bigger deficit. While the Cavs were losing at the half, they didn't come out attempting to even the score in one possession.
Instead, they stacked together a series of positive possessions to make up the difference.
In business, you'll see people who are financially behind their goal trying to make up the difference in one fell swoop which hardly works out. This same type of behavior is prevalent in the fitness space as well with the current obsession with getting results as quickly as possible only to end up worse.
Peak performance and winning comes down to stacking up micro wins such as consecutive positive weeks (or possessions if we're on the hardwood).
4. Performing when it matters most requires attention to detail.
LeBron played all 48 minutes and has been in the league for 15 years. He didn't accomplish this by luck or magic. Instead, it's his attention to the details and the behind the scenes work that no one sees.
James is reported to spend around 1.5 million dollars on his body each year using tools such as hyperbaric chambers and cryotherapy along with having some of the worlds best trainers. In addition to that, James is dialed-in with his nutrition and has specific parameters around all areas of his life.
You don't have to drop millions of dollars, but you will need to become obsessed with the specific details that lead to major returns in your specific industry and the behind-the-scenes work that few people see.