Last Monday the 12th, the Denver Nuggets won their first NBA Championship and even over a week later – I still can’t believe it actually happened.
Nuggets play-by-play radio host Jason Kosmicki “Kos” in disbelief after the Nuggets won their first NBA Finals.
I have been a Nuggets fan since I was eleven years old. In 2003, the Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony and a new generation of Nuggets fans were born, myself included. As a young boy in Denver, I watched eagerly as the Nuggets went from a team in last place every year to playing in the playoffs every year. However, it ended up being twenty years before the promise of that 2003 draft was fulfilled for the Nuggets. Success doesn’t come overnight.
In business, you often find yourself torn between the past, present and future. The past because of successes or mistakes that either encourage or haunt you. The present because you’re living in the moment and have an innate sense of whether things are going well for your business. And the future because you are always planning, always trying to think ahead and set yourself up the best you can. And throughout this NBA playoffs, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to small business success.
For those not familiar with the NBA playoffs, the current format is four rounds. Four rounds each consisting of a seven game series – first to four wins moves on to the next round. The rounds end up being about two weeks in length regardless of how many games are played in the series so the whole process takes about two months. Two months of must win games that make or break livelihoods, legends and entire franchises.
“And yet, what we often don’t appreciate is the journey.” – Jonathan pictured above with the bear he got at the 2005 NBA All-Star game in Denver.
In business, every day can feel like a playoff game. A must win day that either drives you closer to your goal or pushes you backwards.
Owning and operating a small business is a marathon of emotion. That emotion frequently takes you on a roller coaster as you struggle to appreciate the highs and not bottom out in the lows. The end goal is so important both in the NBA and in business.
And yet, what we often don’t appreciate is the journey. You see the end goal is so important until it passes or it becomes the norm and we take it for granted. The Nuggets winning the NBA Championship was such a dream for me and many other Nuggets fans and yet life keeps moving even after they accomplished the dream. The NBA Draft is tomorrow night and the Nuggets’ Championship is fading out of the headlines.
In business, the end goal might be making a sales target or becoming a sustainable business. And yet, when you hit the sales target – a new sales target appears. Just when you think you’ve made it as a sustainable business an outside threat like COVID might be lurking behind a door. And when the end goal is accomplished and the world starts moving forward again – what do you have left?
Jonathan’s son Joshua with his new basketball after Denver won the championship. He wants to dribble like Nuggets star Jamal Murray.
You have memories. Memories of the accomplishment. Memories of the journey to make it to the top. Memories of what it took to overcome challenges and make the ascent to the mountain peak.
This Nuggets team has left me with memories of their journey. A twenty year journey that started as the worst team in the NBA and ended as NBA Champions.
- Memories of Carmelo Anthony making them a playoff team in one year.
- Memories of eight first round playoff exits in nine years.
- Memories of the 2009 playoffs when the Nuggets came within two wins of their first NBA Finals.
- Memories of Carmelo demanding a trade to New York.
- Memories of missing the playoffs for five years after Carmelo left.
- Memories of Nikola Jokic going from a second round draft pick to a two-time NBA MVP.
- Memories of Jamal Murray being drafted with the final pick from the Carmelo Anthony trade.
- Memories of Michael Porter Jr. being drafted by the Nuggets from my alma mater – Mizzou.
- Memories of the Nuggets getting to the second round of the playoffs in the first opportunity for Jokic and Murray.
- Memories of the NBA Bubble in the middle of Covid when the Nuggets came back from being down three games to one TWICE in one postseason run. First against Utah and then against the heavily favored LA Clippers.
- Memories Murray blowing out his ACL that caused him to miss two postseasons and the team to lose in embarrassing fashion in the of those seasons.
- Memories of this magical postseason when the Nuggets went 16-4 and never lost a basketball game by more than seven points.
My exhortation to you is this – savor the journey. Don’t miss the memories and moments along the path to the goal. Savor the highs and appreciate what you learned from the lows. Success isn’t easy and tears will be shed along the way. The end goal is worth it but the journey is what gives the goal meaning.
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