“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas A. Edison
On June 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, a team that had easily defeated them in the previous NBA Finals. The Warriors had just set a 73-9 historic record for the most wins in a regular NBA season. Their best player, Steph Curry, had just won consecutive MVP awards and absolutely shattered the record for the most three pointers ever made in a season. The Warriors had spent months making the case that they were the most dominant team who had ever played basketball, exceeding even Michael Jordan´s Chicago Bulls. Everybody counted Cleveland out.
Cleveland had not won any major sports titles since 1964 when the Browns won the NFL championship. Needless to say, sports fans in Cleveland were used to their teams coming short of titles.
In an interview before the finals began, Lebron James promised the city of Cleveland that he would bring them the championship. Naturally, he had to keep this oath. The fates seemingly aligned against James’ team. After the first four games, the Warriors had a commanding 3-1 lead and were just one win away from winning the championship. Critics’ comments poured in, the majority of which shared the sentiment, ‘Cleveland is done.’ According to most experts, Cleveland would go home, once again empty handed and lacking any trophy.
Lebron would be unable to bring a championship to his city. After all, no team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. Only three teams have ever forced an NBA Finals Game seven after trailing 3-1.
Down in the series, James was asked by a reporter about the disheartening situation he and his teammates were facing. James replied, “The only thing that matters is winning. That’s what I’m here for.” With this comment, James made a two-millimeter shift in his mindset. Something inside him snapped. James told himself that he would not accept another loss. Any massively successful person, regardless of field, knows exactly what they want and why they want it. James did, too: the people of Cleveland were relying on him. He had promised a title.
With this state of mind, Lebron and the Cavaliers fought back and won the fifth and sixth games, tying the series 3-3. James scored 41 points in each game, delivering epic performances. He became the first player with consecutive 40-point performances in the NBA Finals since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. Game seven still loomed, and Cleveland had to return to Golden State for that final game. Golden State was still the favorite because of their home court advantage in this last game.
Game seven took place on June 19th 2016. On that night, James delivered an epic performance on the grandest stage of his superhuman career. The Cleveland Cavaliers attained their first championship in franchise history after winning the final game narrowly 93 to 89. That night, LeBron James’ tears of joy were unstoppable as he held the championship trophy. He had just sealed himself as the primary protagonist in one of sports all-time greatest stories. Cleveland had finally received its magical fairy tale that the city had longed for since 1964.
After that win, James said, “I came back to Cleveland for a reason. I came back to bring a championship to our city. I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone, and when I came back, I knew I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we’ve never been.” James had everything he needed, but making that two-millimeter shift in his mindset and giving himself a reason to succeed combined to make him successful. His vision was complete, and his decision was validated. The journey was harder than he expected, but it proved worth it. Lebron James fulfilled his promise to bring a title to Cleveland.
This epic story is one of so many incredibly inspirational tales over the course of human history. These stories are prevalent, not only in sports, but also in business, in religion, in medicine, in academia, and in every other arena, as they are narratives that reflect how we are all constantly tested in this world. As Thomas Edison famously states, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” This is important to remember because when failure seems ubiquitous and we believe we have tried everything to get the desired outcome we are only two millimeters away from our ideal result and fulfilling our dreams.
Crossing that two-millimeter barrier will lead us to everything we want. We get the fulfillment, the joy, the laughter, the love, the passion, the economics, the freedom, and more.
Do you want all of this? Are you interested in making a two millimeter shift in a specific area of your life? If so, write out the reasons for why making this shift is necessary to achieve your goals and dreams and you will achieve them. Reasons come first, and answers come second.
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Erez Cohen is a global investor and entrepreneur, writer, speaker and real estate developer who focuses on adding massive value to people and communities. He’s been involved in over US$2.5 billion dollars of real estate transactions and was voted a rising star by the Urban Land Institute.