For almost 20 years Alan Stein Jr was a professional basketball performance coach for the NBA. He has now built a career helping corporate leaders improve their business performance with the same strategies he uses with elite athletes.
Stein has worked with some of the biggest names in the NBA—Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, Markelle Fultz, Victor Oladipo, LeBron James and even the one and only Kobe Bryant. All of them attribute their success to one major trait and that is self-discipline.
“As a professional basketball strength & conditioning coach, a big part of my job is to motivate my players to work hard consistently,” says Stein.
Ray Allen, for example, is a three-point leader, multi-time all star and, to add to the list, has an NBA championship ring.
“Even though he has been in the league for 15 years, still to this day, Ray Allen gets to the arena three hours before tip off to go through a structured workout/routine that helps him get prepared to play,” says Stein.
Kobe is also another highly self-disciplined individual. During a basketball camp, Stein asked Kobe if he could observe him during one of his training sessions.
His response was, “Sure, I’m going tomorrow at 4.”
“But we have a camp workout at 3:30,” Stein interjected.
“No, I’m going at 4am!” Kobe exclaims.
Stein had no legitimate excuse to not be at the training session at 4am and since he was going to be there any way he thought he might as well impress him.
“I planned to beat him to the gym. So I set my alarm for 3am.”
Stein gets to the gym and it’s a little after 3:30. It’s pitch black outside. However, he looks over to the gym and sees the lights are already on.
“I can faintly hear a ball bouncing and sneakers squeaking,” says Stein.
He enters through the side door and there is Kobe already in a full sweat. He did an intense pre-workout before his scheduled one at 4am.
Stein didn’t say anything. He just sat down and watched Kobe go through his training session.
“For the first 45 minutes I was bored out of my mind. The things he was doing was so basic.”
Stein went up to Kobe later that day and he had to ask, “Kobe, you’re the best player in the word. Why are you doing such basic drills?”
Kobe looks at him and says with a smile, “Why do you think I am the best in the world? Because I never get bored with the basics.”
Both Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant have accomplished everything a professional NBA player can accomplish yet they still take the time hone in on the basics.
“It wasn’t until later that I started to appreciate that performance is just as much about the mind and mindset and mental toughness as it is about the physical,” says Stein.
Just because something is basic doesn’t mean it is easy.
“The basics work. They always have and they always will,” says Stein.
One of the most foundational skills is time management.
Waking up in the early hours of the morning or spending 2-3 hours traning may seem like a long time. Many people may wonder how do you make time for that.
Stein’s response to that is:
“Be where your feet are.”
That ultimately means to be as present as you can in the moment with what you need to do.
For Stein he is now in his early forties. The average life expectancy for men in the US is 79 years.
“The moment you were born the hour glass was flipped over and the sand started falling,” he says.
Over four decades of living Stein has learned three indisputable truths about time:
- None of us know how much sand is at the top.
- We can’t stop the sand from falling down.
- Once the sand hits the bottom it’s gone.
Thus, without question, time is our most valuable resource and attention is the currency.
It’s through caring that us humans create connection. Ultimately, connection becomes the foundation for happiness and success.
For each and every person that matters in our lives we need to give them our full attention. Phones down, laptop screens closed and TVs off.
To be where feet are is where your head and your heart need to be.
“When you are with your kids, be with your kids. When you are at work, be at work,” says Stein.
In a world full of technology vying for our attention, being present can be challenging. However, intentional practice over time can make being present a little easier.
Back in 2017 Stein was invited to a charity event run by serial entrepreneur and author Jesse Itzler. Participants had to run up a 40-yard hill on 45-degree incline—100 times! That equates to over 8 miles (12.87 km). Thus, the event was appropriately named ‘Hell on the Hill.’
At around three hours into the event Stein was thinking of quitting.
One of the head coaches of the basketball team at Marquette University was also at the event. Stein turns to him and asks, “How much do you have left?
To which he responds with, “1 rep… 30 more times.”
That right there is what it means to be living in the present. You don’t focus on the 100 reps you have to do. You simply focus on just getting through the next one.
Knowledge is only potential power. It is the application of knowledge that helps transform your life.
Make the choice to keep coming back to the basics and refining those skills whether it be in sport, business or life.
And ultimately, make the choice to be where your feet are.
Want to learn more about Alan Stein Jr’s principles for success? Then you pick up a copy of his book ‘Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best’ from Amazon.
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