Just yesterday I came across some old footage of Michael Jordan...

...As for why I occasionally hop in the Time Machine to revisit Jordan's games, perhaps it's for the same reason I occasionally listen to Mozart's Requiem. Or read Shakespeare's Hamlet. Or smell Chanel's No. 5. “Genius see, Genius do,” after all.

Our lives shadow whatever we give our attention to the most... right?

And so, if your heart pumps "immortal longings" thru your veins, as does mine, you'll firmly grasp what another iconic MJ meant by this:

💡 “Study the greats and become greater.
– Michael Jackson

Whenever I study Jordan, rarely does his otherworldly basketball talent concern me. Sure, "Your Airness" defying gravity with his trademark, tongue-wagging dunks impresses me. Somewhat. Ahem, but again, like witnessing two strangers arguing on the subway at night – such details don't concern me.

What concerns me, though, is this: each time I watch Michael Jeffery Jordan play basketball, I glimpse the DNA of Greatness.

Which "DNA," again... you must be wondering?

After Marie Curie won her record-breaking second Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy requested she sit for a photograph.

"Hurry up and finish, so I can get on with my work!" Curie snapped at the photographer before his camera even snapped.

Sure, Curie's response initially seems cold – bordering on Cyborg(ish). Yet when you peel back the layers, like Jordan, Curie's mindset reflected having a mind set to the winner's mantra: "Success is the only option."

Here lies the DNA of Greatness! After all, in this lifetime, the recipe for greatness is always the same:

💡 Realizing our mind quits waaay before our body does

I. Example Beats Precept: Jordan's Classic "Flu Game"

Scottie Pippen carries a flu-ridden Michael Jordan to the bench. (Pic: deviantart.com)

There on-screen stood a flu-ridden Jordan, hands on knees — hunched over.

Unfortunately for Jordan, his body picked the wrong time to take a sick day. It was a pivotal game 5 during the NBA Finals, after all.

Bed-ridden the night before, Jordan’s wife and team doctors begged him to “sit this one out, Mike.” It's too risky, they reasoned.

Why risk playing a high-intensity game, potentially for hours, while suffering from a dangerously high 103-degree fever? they pleaded with him.

As Jordan took the hardcourt that memorable night, somewhere Eminem could be heard rapping: Jordan's "palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy."

MJ recalls suffering from bouts of blurry vision during the game. Indeed, if he wanted to win another championship, he'd have to snatch victory from the jaws of Death.

At halftime, the half-dead-man-walking was reportedly injected with fluids and painkillers. His mind had already given up hours before. But the "soul" of the man, wedded to his success-is-the-only-option mantra, refused to lose.

What more is "faith" than the soul going beyond what the eyes can see?

An hour after nearly collapsing from exhaustion at halftime, Jordan's teammates helped carry "Mighty Caesar" to the locker room. Sure, to paint this masterpiece, the master had to leave a piece of his soul on the court that night. C'est la vie...

...Jordan finished with 38 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Though he could barely lift his arms without assistance, Jordan mustered the strength to sink a 3-point-game-winning basket.

"Are you not entertained?" Jordan presumably groaned to the stunned Jazz audience, one-upping Maximus in the process.

"Probably the most difficult thing I've ever done," Jordan later said about the performance. "I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game."

Indeed, either make history or write it! And the surest way to ensure you make it is to wed your heart to the DNA of Greatness:

💡 Realizing our mind quits waaay before our body does

II. The Takeaway

Chimps and humans surprisingly share 98.8 percent of their DNA. (Pic: unique mix by the author.)

 “We are what we repeatedly do," Aristotle said. "Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

Whenever you hear the expression "it's become second nature to me," just know that's but another word for habit. As for "habit," it's merely a synonym for instinct.

When Darwin studied our closest cousins, despite our sharing 98.8 percent of our DNA, that 1.2 percent margin is like saying being 100 percent dead is only 1.2 percent different from barely surviving on life support.

From Aardvark to Zebra, humans alone are conscious creatures. This means, whereas "the very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason," said Darwin, the instant Nature decided to insert a "mind" into the Animal Kingdom... abracadabra!

"It's alive... It's alive!' But Homo sapiens are far from being Frankenstein. Once Nature opened that 3rd eye, this one-time ape can do the unthinkable: pause blind instinct in exchange for conscious reflection.


Between 0 and 1 lies an infinity. Simply put, unlike all other creatures forced to will blindly by instinct, not us. No, no. We're free to yell "Cut!" at the director. And then, we can write new lines and even add scenes to the script.

Armed with the above, it's important to never lose sight of Aristotle's insight. After all, though we're either blessed with "God-given minds" or have been "evolved, by natural-selection, for consciousness," so far as imagination, consciousness and all such mental traits are foreign to Nature – it's all the same!!

The human mind is our "first nature." Instinct, on the other hand, is the lower animals only nature. Please grasp this subtle yet profound insight. If so, it'll then make Darwin's whisperings feel all the more haunting:

💡 Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

That one-and-only nature of our cousin, the chimp, remains in us.

Sure, we prefer to call that 3.4 billion-year-old habitual prompting by names ranging from "instinct" to "habit" to "second nature." Fine. Yet despite all such pet names we fling around, never forget what Warren Buffett once told a room of youthful, gung-ho investors.

History's greatest investor warned all such risk takers in attendance, who turned stock trading into dice at the casino, to be careful because the "chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."

As Jordan and Curie proved, winning is a habit. But unfortunately, ahh, so too is losing. And believe you, me, dear reader... once you learn to quit, as surely as the night must follow the day – it'll become a habit.

After all,

💡Winners never quit. Quitters never win.
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