‘If every athlete was like Kevin Durant, the world would be a better place.’ Writer Sam Laird
Not only is the guy a great athlete, but his speech this week after winning the NBA’s most valuable player award, gave the world a glimpse of why he is even more than that.
Watch the entire speech here (recommended,) or get a taste for it below…
WHEN SHOWING WEAKNESS IS A SIGN OF GREAT STRENGTH
Growing up I had a hard time with the whole ‘big person crying on television’ thing. Now I realize it had more to do with me than them. I think it reflected more on my inability to show vulnerability than anything else. While I still dislike overly emotional speakers or people who seem to be too quick to tears, I now realize why. It isn’t about the tears, it is about their authenticity. A fake person crying irritates me to know end, but a person crying because they are giving themselves permission to be real is truly moving. When I watch Durant show weakness, I find myself admiring him more and more. I buy it. He is a man showing weakness on a global stage and it takes courage and strength. To be vulnerable means you are capable of trusting others and trusting yourself and this requires tremendous inner strength. It is just that inner strength that I believe makes him capable of achievement in a very challenging line of work.
A SENSE OF PURPOSE
In sports it is so rare to see the person behind the athlete and what truly drives sustainable results. When you listen to Durant you can see his deeper motivation drives his success. It is not winning games that is his passion, it is a burning desire to inspire others, to make his mom proud, to prove himself worthy of a bigger brother’s respect, to be significant in the eyes of his teammates and to prove to himself that despite everything, ‘I am still standing.’ It is that perseverance and humility that has driven him to consistently exceed his own expectations of himself. The result? A whole lot basketball games won.
ALWAYS LEARNING FROM EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING
Can you imagine the journey he has made in terms of his own personal development? I mean to build up that trust in others despite coming from a single-parent disadvantaged home is rare. From that starting point, the prison system in the U.S. is full of people who found lots of reasons to distrust others and destroy their own lives. This comes through in not only his speech but also the structure of it. The whole speech is dominated by two words, ‘thank-you.’ He put his entire team on the stage with him, including the coach, the team GM and owner. He spent 98% of his speech talking about everyone who has helped him and believed in him. He truly believes that he can learn something from every person he meets. His victory became their’s as he stood and named each one of them and explained what they had done for him and why he appreciated each of them as individuals.
You could see that with each word he was solidifying his own leadership and bringing everyone in the room together. Why? Because it is authenticity that drives the engine of leadership and you cannot help but want to follow Durant.
He is true to himself and his passion is so bright that it drives him and those around him, to not only want to be better basketball players, but better people. This is something I believe everyone in a leadership position can learn from.
Let’s hope he caps it off with an NBA championship, there is no doubt he just attracted a whole group of new fans that admire him for more than just his jump shot.