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Creators and Champions Have More in Common Than You Think
Peak performance is peak performance no matter the field ... and telling tales is no exception.
This is part of my “Art of Noticing” series, in which I learn, find, or discover the things around me that usually go unnoticed and turn them into an endless source of creative inspiration.
Today, I learned that basketball player LeBron James has an audio series on the Calm meditation app. It gave me insights into improving my own “champion mindset,” as well as providing insight into champion characters.
I’m a fan of meditation. One of the tools I use is an app called Calm, which I’d absolutely recommend.
There’s a lot of good stuff on there. Some is basics, some is advanced, and some is for special use cases. In addition, there are several celebrity series. While I’m not a basketball fan, I did decide to give LeBron James’s series a go for the hell of it.
I’m glad I did. It wasn’t earthshaking, but it was interesting to hear from someone at the peak of his field. Being excellent at anything demands discipline, focus, and unwavering commitment, be it basketball or … or writing, let’s say. And so while I might not plan to go out dunking any time soon, LeBron’s sessions still helped. They gave a glimpse into the psyche of an elite athlete, but they also showed me how the same principles can be applied to any discipline, including creative ones.
Relentless determination. Practice. Adapting to challenges. Sound familiar, if you’re an ambitious creator? LeBron’s meditative sessions reminded me that any time I want to master my external world, I first have to master my internal one.
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Here's how this "noticing" can benefit my stories and art:
Universal Mindsets in Unique Settings
Every character, like every individual, has their own battlefield. It might be literal or metaphorical, but it’s there.
You don’t have to write a sports hero to use a lesson like that. Infusing any character with a peak performance mindset (discipline, resilience, focus, etc.) turns them into a champion. Doing so can make them intriguing and even inspiring, regardless of their field.
The Power of Inner Peace
While action-packed scenes can drive a narrative, there's undeniable depth in moments of reflection and meditation. Hearing a hard-driving athlete talk about meditation and sleep and mental calm reminded me that everyone is many things, not just “a basketball player” or anything else.
It’s a good lesson for any character development. There’s beauty in quieter moments, where characters find clarity amidst chaos, and a good reminder that even chaotic characters always have quiet sides as well.
A Way of Showing Characters Facing Obstacles with Grace
Success stories aren't linear. LeBron's (or any peak performer’s) career, filled with ups and downs, proves that.
If we can just keep that in mind, our narratives won’t be boring and predictable: always straight up, toward the goal. Instead, we can (and should) weave in places where characters face setbacks and then rise again, now strengthened by their trials.
Inspiration can come from the most unexpected sources. While the stages might be different depending on who you’re talking about — from a basketball court to a writer's desk or an artist's canvas — the core principles that guide elite people are universal. Embrace those elements, and you might just find your own zen in the process.
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