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What We Can All Learn From Michael Jordan

What We Can All Learn From Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is known as the greatest basketball player of all time. And even those who don’t know much about him can tell that he’s more than just an athlete.

Many qualities and skills together with a powerful mindset are needed to become that good at something, to reach the top of a career and to stay consistent at it.

He is a role model, has inspired generations, and is the reason many people fall in love with basketball. He managed to unleash his full potential and is an example of success, action and ambition. There’s a lot he can teach us about life.

So here are 10 valuable lessons we can all learn from Michael Jordan:

1. He accepts failure

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.”

Successful people know that defeats are the most valuable experience in life. It’s our mistakes that show us the right way eventually. And Michael Jordan decided to accept failure, learn from it and do his best next time early on in his career.

2. Always try again

“…But I can’t accept not trying.”

Yes, you will fail. But nothing will ever happen if you don’t get out there and try again.

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The famous basketball player is all about that. It’s his perspiration that made him who he is today.

Way too many people give up on something after they fail a few times, and that’s why they don’t reach the success that’s waiting for them.

3. Practice daily

“I set another goal…a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough. I approached everything step by step.”

Getting good at something is not enough these days. Many people are good at many things. But if you want to make a difference and live your life to the fullest by doing your best, you’ll need to master a skill.

For him it was one of the greatest sports. And if he didn’t show up to practice every single day, even when no one expected him to, he wouldn’t be a winner.

You don’t just need to be consistent and to work hard. It’s the daily commitment that lets you be the best version of yourself and become the best at something.

Once you do, however, it becomes your legacy. And you feel accomplished and content no matter the results.

4. Take action

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

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Many people spend a great deal of time trying to think of the best idea, to plan it, to predict everything that could happen and prepare for it. Others dream more than they do.

But, truth is, nothing will ever happen if you don’t do something about it, and there’s no better time than today.

Action breeds action. And if you’re initiative and consistent in what you do, you’ll succeed.

5. Enjoy the game

“Enjoy every minute of life.”

Whatever you do, make sure you’re having fun. That’s what Michael Jordan was doing during each game.

Life is much easier this way, and you perform better. So go find something you enjoy, get good at it and create something meaningful out of your life.

6. Let go of expectations

“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.”

Another great lesson from Michael Jordan is that expectations often get in the way of what we want to achieve in life. And if you let them, they prevent you from moving forward.

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But it’s all in your hands and others have nothing to do with it. So don’t listen to what they expect, don’t take into consideration how they see things, just stay focused on the game and do what feels right.

7. Be dedicated

“He didn’t miss games. He played hurt, with pain, when he was sick. He came out and performed at an intense level. I don’t think anybody ever went away disappointed after watching Michael.” – Phil Jackson

In order to receive what success has for you, you’ll have to give something in exchange. It’s often your time, energy and focus.

Dedicate enough of them, and you’ll be on top of your game.

8. Be humble

“There will be a player greater than me.”

Michael Jordan knows that even if the world thinks he is the best basketball player, someone else will eventually come along who is better.

And that’s how we should all act. Stop thinking that you are the best and no one can be better. Humility is a trait that is highly valued and respected.

9. Stay focused on your goals

“The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals and you can’t let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.”

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There are many distractions in life. And it wasn’t any different for Michael Jordan. He had to deal with failures, other people’s opinion, his personal problems, team members, what the media said about him, fame, and many other things. But he never stopped being concentrated on his goals.

He kept his vision, stayed true to what he believed in, and never let anything from the outside world get to his mind or heart.

10. Leave fear behind

“Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion”

He realized that fear was an illusion earlier than others, and that gave him the freedom to try harder and dream bigger.

Fear of failure is a big obstacle on the way to success. Be we won’t go any further unless we let go of it. It’s important to realize that the only barriers are the ones we set for ourselves. We create such illusions that make us afraid to take action. And without action, there’s no progress.

So don’t be afraid to do what you love and fail as much as you can.

All these lessons, together with the unforgettable games Michael Jordan played, are his legacy. And we can do the same.

Everything in life is possible. We just need to have a definite desire and take action upon it every single day.

Featured photo credit: Michael Jordon by Jason H. Smith (creative commons) via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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