In a recent Gatorade commercialKevin Durant is taking the ball down the court against the Miami Heat. He penetrates the defense, drives hard in paint, goes up for the slam and is met mid-flight by Dwayne Wade; just as Durantula is about to jam it home, Wade reaches up and blocks it.
Cut to Durant, snapping upright in bed, covered in sweat, a look of terror on his face. It was just a bad dream. (Think Tupac in the video for “California Love” or any other character waking up from a nightmare in anything ever.)
Durant then eats a Gatorade power gel thing and sets about training harder than ever in the dank, Rocky IV solitude of most training sequences you see in commercials.
Soon, we’re back on the court. Thunder-Heat again, Durant drives, Wade meets him mid-flight but this time…BOOM Durant slams it right in D-Wade’s grimacing face. Now it’s Wade waking up from a terrible nightmare.
“Win from within” says the tag line.
Aside from the metaphysical implications of two people sharing the exact same dream, this phrase is somewhat peculiar. After all, success must always come from within. Motivation at the highest levels of any field is essential and where else can motivation come from?
The suggestion is that we are motivated not by the will to succeed or the desire to reach our goals or dreams; it isn’t from a ravenous craving for the nectar of victory that we blast through the pain barrier.
We win for fear of failure.
Lets face it. Competition is about ego. We like to think of mano y mano, toe to toe, trash talk and posterizing a lesser player to fuel our own glory but high level performance is about competing with yourself. Professional athletes talk about swagger and confidence all the time. Every one of them grows up being (and being told repeatedly) that they are the best anyone’s ever seen and THAT is their motivation. In their mind they always know that if they bring it, they can’t be stopped. If they were afraid of failing, they’d have never made to the big time it in the first place.
So how about this for a commercial. Durant steps onto the court. He looks at the women in the crowd and knows they want him. He looks at the men, some of them a foot and a half shorter than he is as knows they envy him. He looks at the kids in the stands and every one of them is wearing an OKC jersey with his name on the back.
He thinks of his beautiful home, his cars, his mother who wants for nothing and how it feels as good to stroke a three against Miami as it did to stroke a three against a rival middle school team when he was 13.
Getting blocked by Dwayne Wade? The thought never crossed his mind.
Kevin Durant doesn’t have nightmares.