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Gems from the NBA Playoffs. What?

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Failure Speech. The YouTube video:

Even my husband has been stunned by how much basketball I’ve been watching with him. I made it through all of the March Madness of NCAA basketball, and then went into the NBA playoffs with fervor! I guess sports has provided a default choice when about everything else on a zillion channels and streaming services is unentertaining at best, and largely offensive at worst.

My blog, Perils & Pearls, is about finding jewels in the journey. But I was not expecting to find any gems inside of the NBA playoffs! But lo and behold, when the #1 seeded team, the Milwaukee Bucks, was eliminated by the Miami Heat, a set-up for a character lesson quickly emerged...

When the star of the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was asked during the post-game interview about whether he viewed the season as a failure, his spontaneous reply was a demo of integrity, having no prep time to hone his wording or mask his emotions.

If you watch the Youtube video, you can see the emotions as Giannis responses to the reporter’s question about this year being a failure. But, even if you just read the transcript of the interview, I believe you will see what I saw: Integrity. Values revealed. Self-awareness in play even in a moment of great distress.

Let me share some bullets re: what stood out to me in Giannis’ response to the reporter asking him if his season was a failure because his team got beat in the first play-off round:

· Is it failure every year you don’t get a promotion? He tried to relate to the inquiring reporter by asking him about what is failure, as it relates to his job as a reporter.

· You are working towards a goal. He named a few of his high values here: to be able to take care of your family, provide a home for them, or take care of your parents.

· Michael Jordan won six championships. Were the other nine years of his career failures? Again, Giannis was trying to put the reporter’s question in a context he could relate to.

· Success has many steps: He talked about each year you don’t win a championship is a step towards success.

· It’s the wrong question! Yes, that is the point: there are no failures in sports. You won’t always be the trophy-winner, but you can always build on what you learned for the next season, the next opportunity.

· I’m sorry, I don’t want to make this personal. Even in his state of distress after a devastating loss, he was self-aware enough to notice his emotions about this question of failure were making it difficult for him to not take it personal and make it personal.

May I bring this display of integrity into the world of personal growth? The term integration (& disintegration) is used in several settings within the transformational growth process. Several years back, it was my WFTY (Word For the Year), so I did some digging re: the definition(s) of the word. For my purpose of using it as a focus word, I distilled all of the denotations and connotations of integration and landed with this:

Integration is the state of being the same in all places & cases.

You can see how then, we get to the virtue of integrity (my paraphrase):

Living in the state of demonstrating consistent values throughout the domains and seasons of one’s life.

Interestingly, during my training for becoming an Enneagram Practitioner, the words integration and disintegration were applied to the two opposite states possible re: personal growth inside your Enneagram Type structure.

In other words, integration is where you are not a slave to your structure; you don’t stop at your natural tendencies when considering how to approach or think about a situation or decision. You operate freely to explore if a different perspective (of one of the other eight Types) might be the best view for a given situation, while still able to bring the strengths of your Type structure to bear.

This being opposed to the state of disintegration, where you are unaware of what your Type tendencies and blind spots are; and therefore, unknowingly, you default to that perspective in situations and decisions. You are not operating in the freedom to bring in a different perspective that may be better suited for the situation; bound to your Type structure. Inevitably, this singular view will interfere with your ability to bring your Type's superpower into your relationships and situations.

Our gifts and strengths, or assets, can be represented as one side of a coin. On the other side, are our challenges (or the shadow side). Every Type has both sides – the asset side and the challenge side - in operation.

For those who are committed to personal growth, the goal is to spend more time on the asset side where we are enjoying the freedom of offering our gifts in our fields of influence; and less on the challenge side, where we are held back by a lack of awareness of the over-dos of our strengths and our blind spots, denying the world around us of our potential contribution.

One way of getting in touch with the two sides of your wiring is to experience an Enneagram Typing Interview, which provides a foundational framework for a person’s self-discovery process. Growth means change; and as Sheryl Sandberg said:

We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.

If you would like a professional partner in your personal journey, feel free to reach out to me. I am a Certified Enneagram Coach, as well as Christian Life Coach. I would be happy to facilitate an Enneagram Typing Interview for you to support your exploration of this powerful typology tool.

Meanwhile...I invite you to ponder these questions with me:

Where in my life am I not consistently demonstrating my values? Why not?
How would my behavior look on a video of my response in a moment of significant distress or disappointment?
Could I navigate through my real-time processing and display integration with all eyes on me?
Or would you see me disintegrating in the difficult moment? If so, where do I need to bring my awareness within the structure of my Type? How do I get back from the challenge side to the asset side of my wiring?

(Lord, I lift up my weaknesses and blind spots to You. Only with You and through Your Spirit can I experience real transformational change. Anything else is just short-term self-improvement.)

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Blessed to play a part ~


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