LeBron James on Maximizing Potenial

Where does talent really come from? Is it innate? Are you born with it, or is it something that you cultivate? You may not be genetically gifted, naturally creative or predisposed to quick learning. But just because life didn’t deal you the best cards, doesn’t mean that you can’t play an inventive hand.

You might be good at your job. But are you applying yourself as best as you can? Are you earning what you’re truly worth? Are you a thought leader within your industry? Do you try to evolve beyond your position? LeBron James is a man that needs no introduction. The athlete is the paragon of potential realized.

In an interview with The Associated Press, James provided insight into how he went from an average nine year old born to a single mother in Akron, Ohio, to the the global icon that he is today:

”I’m nitpicking now, obviously, at my own game … I want that. I want to be uncomfortable. I want to continue to push the envelope and get to a point where I feel like I’m trying to master everything. Now, I can’t be the greatest at everything. There’s better rebounders than me. There’s better passers than me. There’s better scorers than me. But I want to be able to maximize my potential in everything I do.”

LeBron is genetically gifted. But what are gifts without challenge, support, hard work and dedication? Nothing but wasted potential. For James, it was never about being better than someone else. It’s always been about being his personal best. In another interview, James expounded on this idea:

“It’s not for anyone to put rankings out … At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where people rank me all the time. But for me, I have a personal goal to be the greatest.”

Pushing his genetic code to its limits has always been his mission. And what does that exactly mean?

“That I maximize my potential, that I got everything out of my career and I got everything out of my game that I could and that I pushed the envelope…When people said I couldn’t get better, I continue to strive to get better. If I do that, I can be very high.”

James had no college education, nor previous work experience. While James plays basketball from talent, his spot in the pantheon of greats was achieved through a relentlessness to evolve. Talent without nurturing isn’t enough. Your personal achievements – your fitness, your wealth, your reputation – come from a desire to stretch your boundaries.

Socrates famously said, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

Yes, LeBron James is remarkable for what he refers to as his “God-given talent.” Many are born with advantages. But to invest in it and grow it, to operate at an elite level, and to do so against all odds, is remarkable. Ask yourself: what would LeBron do with the privileges afforded to you?

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

This post was originally published on Year One.