HEAD TO THE SKY, FEET ON THE GROUND
By: Michael Min
“You ain’t sh*t yet.”
“You think you are. But you really aren’t, so jump off that imaginary Statue of Liberty looking tower you THINK you’re on, come back to Earth and get back in the mud.”
“Whatever it is I/you want, I’M/YOU’RE GOING TO GET!”
These are the typical conversations I have with myself about myself when I wake up first thing in the morning, and throughout the course of the day. These conversations become even more lucid and imperative during critical moments like when I opened the acceptance email into New York University, and when the NYU basketball head coach told me that he’d love to have me on the team. These moments are crucial because they’re momentous stepping stones and proud achievements, which are therefore, dangerous, because they bring about a feeling of satisfaction. I constantly have to remind myself in these situations that satisfaction is a fake friend. Don’t need em.’ Satisfaction is unnecessary, hindering, and toxic in the sense that it’ll take your eyes off what really matters for as long as you let it.
Before I go on further, you might be wondering, “This guy’s crazy. What is he, a maniac?” “Does this guy really talk to himself about himself?”
To answer the first question, I’m not sure. I’ve never been diagnosed clinically.
To answer the second, I talk to myself all the time. Ironically, it’s what keeps me sane and grounded. Jim Kwik said it best. “Your brain is like a supercomputer, and your self-talk is the program it will run.” It’s the constant recurring thoughts about the successes I choose to manifest that jumpstart my day with a hustler’s state of mind to take proper action within my 16-18 waking hours.
Having said that, unless I’m with people I trust and whom I selectively confide my complexities to, I’m typically a quiet guy, probably because my thoughts are so damn loud. Less talk, more action, right? And as you can see from the conversation I have with myself above, it’s always about getting there, a place and mental framework I will find myself in where the things I will be doing every damn day are aligned with my strong values and beliefs, and in tune with my mind, body, and spirit.
In retrospect, I know for a fact that I got my hustle from my parents. Cliché, I know. But seriously, if you got to see what I saw right before my eyes everyday growing up, and you aren’t inspired to make something of yourself, I would say you have problems and that you’re a certified bum.
Here’s an example:
*I remember when I was a kid, maybe 6 or 7, wondering why my family kept our grocery store open, and never celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving like normal families do*
“Why do you have to work today? It’s Christmas!”
“Michael, how many other stores are open today?”
“.... I don’t know.”
“Exactly. None. This is our chance to make more money.”
I was just old enough to know where they were coming from. They were hustlers of the purest form. How could I be upset? This is the fine grey line they cross every day to separate themselves from the average person. Simple, but powerful, instances like these have accumulated throughout my years of childhood and adolescence that make me who I am today.
Back to what I was saying, I had those intense thoughts and wanted to be somebody. Like the typical love story, the game of basketball and I introduced ourselves to each other at the perfect time and place, and it was a wrap. There was no turning back. I found an opportunity for me to put my thoughts into action. Once I fell in love with the game at 13 years old, there was no turning back. At that age, viscous and hungry, I wanted to catch every kid in front of me and be the best basketball player I could be.
Adding on to the point earlier about the quest of getting there and the danger of complacency, I fortunately realized how important the process is. What’s that simple mantra Joel Embiid always says that gets repeated all over the news so often that it loses its value and significance? “Trust the process,” right? I’ll add one component though. Trust and enjoy the process, because accomplishing the goal shouldn’t be the only part of the quest that should bring the ‘oh almighty’ eternal feeling of happiness. Rather, it should be the process that hustlers like my parents should enjoy more than anything. People often like to romanticize the idea that getting the car they always wanted, getting that million dollar paycheck, and getting that Rolex will make them happy, but in reality, it just brings about a temporary feeling of satisfaction and joy.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a moment to be proud of a big goal you’ve accomplished. You should take in the sweet euphoric high of seeing your hard work pay off, but only for a moment, because that goal reached is just a baby step in the right direction of the marathon. I had this moment of clarity the night my SJS Knights won the basketball championship my senior year. Winning it was on my mind my entire life and I always imagined that getting the bragging rights, holding the trophy, and cutting down the net would bring me to the highest level within the hierarchy of happiness. Contrary to my belief, an hour after we left UOG and were at a party, I was dumbfounded because that glorious feeling I had an hour before, jumping around, celebrating with my entire school, was fading away. It was back to square one. I thought to myself, “I’m not done. This is just one goal we all knew we were going to achieve because we put the work in. What’s next? College basketball.” Best believe I was in the gym the next day.
At this point in my life as a college student with big dreams, I know that having a career in playing professional basketball isn’t gonna happen. I don’t think I’m good enough and I have other passions and interests in other avenues of life. Nevertheless, I’m blessed to have played the game because it helped me develop strong morals and principles, and taught me what hard work and discipline with a positive state of mind can manifest. The list goes on and on. But ultimately, it opened the doors of a true, purposeful life. With my head to the sky and feet on the ground, I’m going to continue applying everything I’ve learned from the game into my future endeavors.
I hope that by the time you’ve finished reading this short excerpt, it will have made some sort of positive impact on your life. If you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to feed your mind positive self-talk. When it becomes a subconscious habit in your everyday life, I promise it will change your life for the better. I sincerely hope you find what you’re looking for, whatever it is that makes you happy.
To more struggles and more life,