“When you focus on the past, that’s your ego.”
“When I focus on the future, that’s my pride.”
“Try to focus in the moment, in the present. That’s humility.”
Two-time MVP and newly crowned NBA Champion Giannis Antetokounmpo said these words in a press conference last week when asked about how he managed ego. It was incredibly refreshing and insightful coming from someone at the top of their game.
I can relate. Not to the Greek Freak’s style of play, of course. But I’ve dwelt on the past and what I accomplished in prior games. My ego didn’t help me perform well in the next game. And I’ve looked toward the future feeling entitled to another great performance. My pride allowed me to look past my current opponent and the result wasn’t favorable.
I can relate now. My ego often wants to still be a professional basketball player. My pride wants to be a successful businessman. Never mind what ‘successful’ means — I lose out on the opportunities of N.O.W. (no opportunities wasted). Giannis is right. It takes humility to stay in the moment.
Focusing on the past might not be just your ego. It could also mean shame, regret or disappointment pulling you back. There’s no benefit in spending any more time with what’s already behind you. In a game, revisiting negative plays caused me to be hesitant and unassertive. Any game/life progresses too quickly to spend time fixated on the past.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…” -Philippians 3:13-14
Focusing on your future may not be just your pride. It could also be insecurity or fear that’s holding you back. There’s no advantage in allowing doubt to overwhelm our today. The future is full of unknowns. We can allow those fears to cripple us or let them fuel us.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34
At the end of the interview, Giannis says, “That’s a skill I’ve tried to master.” Personally, this is the best part. Ego, pride, shame, anxiety, and more will creep in. The past will try to pull us back. The future will try to make us miss the moment. These aren’t fixed traits though. We have the ability – N.O.W. – to make the most of the moment.
I love C.S. Lewis’s definition of humility. He said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” All of these emotions (pride, ego, doubt, shame, etc.) are self-centered. Maybe the biggest challenge is getting over ourselves so that we can be fully present in the moment.
My goal for today: Be where my feet are.