On Tuesday night, it only took LeBron James until the end of the first quarter to score his 30,000th regular-season point. It's a feat that only six other players in NBA history have accomplished.
In anticipation of this milestone, James took to Instagram a couple of days before to congratulate his younger self on a job well done. Also, he encouraged himself to take a moment, to let it all sink in, and to appreciate everything he's been through:
His story got me thinking about successful careers in general. Very rarely, if ever, do efforts result in overnight successes. Rewarding careers take years of commitment, long hours, and many sacrifices. After the fact, the importance of perseverance is obvious, but staying dedicated to goals is extremely difficult while you're working toward them. That's why many give up.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self, knowing what you know today?
Here's what James did--and what we should all do too:
Take one game at a time.
Over the span of his NBA career, James has played in over 1,100 games. He's had great games and some not so great games. He's won championships and lost championships, been named MVP and seen others get the award.
I think you get where I'm going. Success doesn't mean the absence of tribulation. Actually, it's the exact opposite. Success is being relentless and continuing to make a choice to play the next game regardless of setbacks.
In the moment, defeat can be demotivating and seem unfair. I like to think of it as the world giving us a quick gut-check to ensure we truly want something.
This quote from motivational speaker Eric Thomas is one I would share with my younger self: "Fall in love with the process and the results will come."
Don't sweat the small stuff.
If you knew you were going to win the lottery there's probably a few things you would do differently. You wouldn't be as easily offended, you would definitely worry less, and you wouldn't feel the need to prove yourself every step of the way.
James has dealt with his fair share of haters. Now, after an accomplishment like this, all those years of slights and digs have been contextualized. Being recognized as one of the seven best scoring players in the world is great validation.
I'd tell my younger self not to sweat the small stuff. Stay focused and one day, all the risks you took and all those vulnerable moments will be turning points that helped define your career.
Appreciate the moment.
We live in a consumer-driven world. How much is enough? -- Just a little bit more. This same mentality is applied to our careers. Many people derive their value based on their last major accomplishment. They crave and live on mountaintop experiences. This creates a definition of success that's an ever-receding horizon.
While working toward this impossible end, we rob ourselves of the little joys life has to offer. We never take a breath to appreciate the present moment and those who share it with us.
If I could go back, I'd tell myself to enjoy the process of growing up. To be patient, practice contentment, and be grateful for the many blessings I already had around me. In the long-run, the accomplishment itself won't be what you remember. It will be all the people who supported you.
What would you tell your younger self?