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The Most Important Takeaway From Jimmy V’s 1993 ESPY Award Speech That We Forget

The Most Important Takeaway From Jimmy V’s 1993 ESPY Award Speech That We Forget

I’ve been an avid college basketball fan ever since I was a young child and I vividly remember one of the most powerful coaches on the court, Jimmy Valvano. His passion for the game was something that could never be missed during games I’d watch on television.

He’s one of the reasons I loved playing basketball as a child. Like many others, I had the hopes and dreams of playing at the sport at a college level. You’d watch him on the bench running his team and it was something you wanted to be a part of.

In a sad, yet inspiring twist of fate, he’s now gone, passing away tragically in 1993 from a battle with cancer. He will certainly never be forgotten. As a result of his legendary 1993 ESPY Awards address in combination with his legacy, I wanted to share my personal feelings on what exactly he leaves behind for us.

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That video gets me every single time. I watch it over and over again. And there’s good reason for it.

If you haven’t watched it before, stop reading this article and watch it. If you have watched it, you know that Jimmy Valvano leaves behind three key requests for all of us.

“When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

If those three things – laughing, thinking, and crying – is done every day, mindfully and meaningfully, in both your personal and professional lives, it is a full day. A day that is truly lived.

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The Most Important Takeaway

Aside from those three key requests Valvano mentioned, there’s another part in particular that hits me even more.

About halfway through the speech, he talks about his family support. He looks up and sees a monitor giving him the normal countdown of how much time he has left to finish his speech.

He responds with, “That screen is flashing up there 30 seconds like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I’m worried about some guy in the back going “30 seconds”? You got a lot, hey va fa Napoli, buddy. You got a lot.”

Time.

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It is an important part of our busy lives that we too often forget about. Whether it’s flying through life because of our busy work schedules, or neglecting your todays because you think you’re guaranteed an infinite amount of tomorrows, we take time for granted.

And every time I watch that video and those few seconds come up, I always pause it to think about my life: personally and professionally.

I always worried I’m so busy that I’m missing out on the beauty of what’s around.

We know two important pieces to the puzzle of life: time isn’t always on your side and life itself is very precious. Those are two important lessons right there that Jimmy V leaves behind as a part of his incredible legacy.

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To that end, I use this week every year to reminisce on what a legacy Jimmy V. leaves behind and what he really wants everyone to remember about life, including you.

To me personally, it’s about making sure to enjoy life to the fullest as we navigate through its hardships and challenges. It’s a truth that can translate easily in our lives professionally and personally. I make sure that people I associate with feel a sense of passion and pride while working together. You should too.

Jimmy V. says best, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Featured photo credit: ESPN via espnmediazone.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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