(Transcript of video)
I’ve always been a “why” girl. As a little girl I remember riding shotgun in my dads old, clunker truck on a random country road, asking the question “why” about almost everything I saw, heard, smelled, all of it. He answered every time. I honestly don’t think, to this day, he has ever not answered me and I’m late into my 30s. Thank God he was patient with his wildly inquisitive daughter.
Today, the work I do still largely consists of asking “why?”. My love is for self-directed leadership, motivation, awareness, and all of that is combined with connection. I want to help business owners build real and true, authentic relationships with their people. And a lot of the time I ask why something is or isn’t important to them.
I am a former competitive athlete and have a high respect for professional athletes. So the NBA Bubble was especially interesting to me because of my love of sports, athletes, and it was an attractive opportunity for me because I had so many questions about it.
Now, the reasoning for the bubble makes total sense and I applaud the persistence and ingenuity of everyone putting the bubble together. It really is something that will go down in history.
But the answer to the “why” regarding the bubble, didn’t satiate me. I wanted more. Not all my questions were being answered or even hardly discussed in the media. I wanted to know about the team relationships, social implications, affects on their mental state, emotional state, even their sexual lives may be totally different. I wanted to know the answers to what wasn’t being talked about or asked.
And for my line of work, this information would be so helpful to the people that I work with. During a quarantine, how does one keep a team engaged and trusting in each other if no one can physically be with each other. What if we are separated from our family, how do we keep our sanity and still do our work well? What can your leaders do to support you during these times?
So being the inquisitive woman I am, I decided, with a lot of anxiety and nerves, to reach out to several players and see if any would be willing to speak with me about my questions regarding the bubble. Thankfully, I got some responses and willingness to talk with me.
Some of the questions I asked:
“What does it feel like not having a loving touch from your partner or a family member?”
“How does it feel not seeing your kids everyday, and have them run and jump into your arms?”
“How do you feel when you think about how their hair smelled after the bath?”
“What is it like not getting hugs or kisses from your partner?”
Those actions that make you feel safe, loved, cared about…how does not having them affect you?
Being around your teammates the most, what role are you playing here that you don’t have to at home?
Do you miss not being able to go to a new restaurant, see your local friends, smell the familiar scents of your city.
How are you dealing without them? Any substitutions?
Now, those things are relaxing and centering, they help one feel grateful and content with their life, and safe. Without that, this can affect your general well-being which ultimately affects your performance. It changes your game.
When your life is stable, comfortable, at least predictable, you are more likely to perform better. In the bubble, everything is kerbaubbled (ha, my grinch reference for the day).
The players, and support staff, don’t have the same opportunities of support to self-regulate or heal as they did before.
What is that going to do to the players?
I have to give it to these guys. They were kind and willing to try and help me with my questions. They did their best being open and honest with a total stranger sitting across from them. I asked a lot of them. To be vulnerable with me.
I didn’t take names, everything was anonymous, they had an open platform to say what they wanted. I hoped they would be comfortable enough to do that.
Upon asking these questions, we got to see each other via video so I could watch them respond and they could see I’m a real person.
Being able to see their eyes move, their face change, even get a read on their energy with the questions was so helpful. Thank God for video during these times lol. In person would have been best, but it worked.
Overall, this was tough. It was scary. These big ol’ guys that seem so indestructible and untouchable and hard, felt a lot, and it was real.
A common goal was they didn’t really want to focus much on the future, it would be too overwhelming for them. Anxiety inducing, amirite? (points at self)
So they kept their attention on the day-to-day. Working out, practice, excursions (team building), activities, keeping themselves centered (busy or relaxed).
Their challenges were finding alternative ways to handle their issues. Being antsy or anxiety building, how to deal with that with what they have access to. Me? I’d take a drive with my music at level 23 (that’s the highest I can get my radio without my ears bleeding). But they can’t do that. They had to find out how to handle all of their issues, in the bubble.
The intimate and really vulnerable questions were tough.
Some responded openly and honestly. Some responded like they were really suspicious of me. Some had a hard time staying professional. Some didn’t believe why I wanted their insight. Some came there with great intentions but couldn’t find the words to explain how they felt.
Honestly, I understood all of their responses. It all made sense, eventually. Could I relate? Nope.
But that’s also why I did this, I wanted to experience their experience. Learn about it through them. And each person will be different with how they see it. That’s when the epiphany hit me. I started to realize I wasn’t really here to learn about the bubble, I was here to learn about them in the bubble.
After all the “how” questions I asked them, I went back to my ol faithful. The question always at the forefront of my mind, the one God sewn into my heart.
Why do all this to play basketball? Why put yourself through it, why put your family through it, your sanity, your plans? Why?
I knew some of the common answers would show, and they did.
-It’s my job
-I have to work
-It’s my passion
-I owe it to my team
-I want to play and I feel safe here
-Its just what I do
-I want to be a champion
But I kept going with they why, why do you ___________
In the motivational world we call this the “Power of Why”. Where you just keep asking why until you get to the bottom of the actual question and the answer comes out. It’s very challenging and causes a lot of people to get defensive too. This happened a few times as well lol.
Not everyone has asked themselves why so much, or they may not even know the answer as to why.
But I kept asking until I got to the absolute real, authentic, sole reason, the root of the root to their why.
Resounding answer, “because I love it”.
This is where things really started to change.
But what did that actually mean?
We believe that love is all things good, warm fuzzies, fulfillment, validation, affirmation, peace, direct connection to a higher power.
But this love they referenced and felt, wasn’t just those things – their love included anger, pain, fear, loss, sadness, anxiety, guilt and shame, uncertainty, and what I personally related to…rage.
How can love be all these things?
Because love is wildly complex, it’s multi-faceted, complicated, and relentlessly inclusive.
It involves all our feelings and emotions, our whole self. All of them.
It includes sacrifice, and I don’t use that word lightly. Sacrifice is pain. I was taught by my mentor that if you decide to say yes to something, then that means you have to say no to something else. That could mean saying no to a million things in order to get what you want. The opposite is true too. Saying no to something means yes to something else. That is sacrifice. That is love.
Love also includes fighting yourself, going against what you think you want to get what you need. Others going against you, love is a struggle.
In our life we want to avoid struggle. Understandably so.
But the struggle IS the love.
The struggle is what makes the love so big and influential, so important to us. Our lifes work and purpose, where our soul is aligned.
This really makes the normal people, like you and me, a part of “their” world too.
We go through hell sometimes to get where we need to be. And that struggle is proof of your love. It’s in there, it just may look a lot different than what you expect.
These guys taught me that lesson. Love is very different than what you may expect. It includes all of us, even the sad and scary parts. And that gives me a feeling of peace, and community, to know that I’m not alone and all my faults and flaws and failures are still my love. My love for myself, my work, my purpose.
All of what we are, is love.
All of it.
All of it.