I’ve always been fascinated by human achievement. When people push the limits of what’s possible, and onlookers are left in disbelief at what they just witnessed.
It feels like magic. A feat so impressive that it seemingly invokes the supernatural.
But it’s not magic. At least, not *that* kind of magic.
Instead, it’s the magic that each of us have inside, but few ever fully realize.
To tap into that magic – to become the best at something and push the boundaries of what’s possible – requires a tremendous level of dedication, discipline, perseverance and sacrifice that few people possess.
For me, no one exemplified this idea of “making magic” more than Michael Jordan.
Simply put, he’s the greatest among greats. And his ascension was not an accident. He personifies these attributes and so much more.
As a kid, I’d watch MJ torch his competition on the court, and then I’d spend countless hours trying to mimic his moves on the hoop that was nailed to the side of my family’s mobile home.
Driving to the hoop with my tongue out… practicing his fadeaway jumper… or hitting the game-winning shot as I counted down in my head… 3…2…1… Swish.
Like so many kids, I wanted to “be like Mike.”
I got a pair of Jordan shoes for Christmas one year. Later, a jersey of MJ. I was on my way!
But I didn’t realize until much later in life that “being like Mike” is actually a mindset that can be applied to anything that you want to become the best at.
It’s training your mind to do what’s necessary – dedication, discipline, perseverance and sacrifice – to become the best.
That mindset is *the* magic.
I never thought that I was capable of making magic.
That is, until I suffered the biggest loss of my life: the unexpected passing of my mother.
Following her passing, I sat down to draw… something I hadn’t done in nearly 10 years.
The subject of that very first drawing: Michael Jordan.
You see, MJ’s ability to make magic has always been an inspiration to me.
Artistically, I push myself every day with one goal: to be better than the previous day. And over weeks, months, and years… I steadily improved.
With each drawing, I challenged myself in new ways until one day I decide to take on a drawing that I thought was far beyond my skill level: MJ’s free throw line dunk.
I worked on the drawing all day, every day for many months as I tried to capture every single detail. I’d draw for several hours and only make an inch of progress on the paper. Many times, I wanted to quit.
But I pushed forward.
This drawing challenged me in so many ways, and forced me to reassess all of my self-imposed limits around dedication, discipline, perseverance and sacrifice. If I wanted to pull this off, I’d have to reach a new level to discover what I’m capable of creating.
This was when I truly learned what it takes to be great and, if I ever wanted to become one of the “greats” then this is the mindset I’d need.
There’s no shortcut to success, and there’s no easy path to greatness.
When I finally finished the drawing of MJ, I was so excited to share it!
But I had no idea of the massive impact that drawing would actually have.
The drawing was shared across social media all over the world, and became one of Reddit’s “most upvoted” posts in the website’s history. It led to articles in national publications and interviews with television networks. And it created so many new opportunities for me.
I was shocked and thrilled. But nothing compared to the phone call I got next…
Michael Jordan learned about the drawing… and wants me to create an original drawing for him.
Oh, and he wants me to personally deliver the drawing to him.
I left the call speechless.
As I sat back in disbelief, I couldn’t help but think about my mom, and how far I’ve come. From a kid living in a trailer park practicing MJ’s jump shot to… well… this. It’s unbelievable, and I wish so much that she was here to see this. I quickly felt a flood of emotions and tears started flowing.
After completing the artwork, MJ flew me, my wife and daughter to his golf course in Florida.
I presented the artwork to MJ, and he gazed at it with a big smile on his face as he took in every detail of the drawing.
Finally, he spoke… needless to say, receiving praise from MJ was surreal. And spending time with MJ was unforgettable. I’m so grateful for his support.
But more than anything, I’m grateful at the lessons that I learned from MJ, and what it truly takes to be “great” at something.
Now, when I see my “MJ dunk” drawing shared online, and read the many comments from people that cannot believe it’s a pencil drawing or “how is that possible?”… I cannot help but smile and think…