Boss of Me: The LeBron James Method
By Jacey Eckhart
My inner critic is not that smart. Venomous, yes. Biting, often. Brilliant, not so much. When I am trying to be the Boss of Me, I often trick my inner critic into thinking that she is basketball legend LeBron James.
Which is a stupendous feat, really. Especially when I cannot walk down a hallway without tripping on a pattern in the carpet while LeBron is one of the greatest athletes of all time.
I started using this method years ago after reading the work of University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross. He was drawn to studying how our inner monologues affect success when he heard LeBron James explain in an interview how he decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“One thing I didn’t want to do was make an emotional decision,” said LeBron James. “I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and do what makes LeBron James happy.”
Hearing the basketball star suddenly flip into third person was eye-opening for Kross. In a series of seven groundbreaking experiments, Kross and his team found that switching pronouns or calling ourselves by our own first names, like LeBron did in the interview, gives us the right amount of distance to improve self-regulation, perform better, criticize ourselves less after a performance, and perceive future stressors as less threatening.
That’s pretty good stuff. I found it is even better when you also channel LeBron James. Because you wouldn’t let LeBron James down, would you? You wouldn’t expect LeBron James to give up just because the work is hard. So here is how it goes:
STEP ONE: Do what is best for LeBron James.
Well, not the real LeBron. He has his own staff to figure out what to do for LeBron. Instead, describe what you need to do that you cannot make yourself do.
For example, I know I really should finish the synopsis for my novel so I can send my marketing materials to a real agent and get this novel published, but I don’t wanna. Writing that kind of stuff is hard and makes me want to spit gum on every page of my story right before I chuck it into the river.
Chucking things is not something LeBron would do. He would get the synopsis done.
STEP TWO: Write down what you need to do using first person. As in,
I am finishing my synopsis today because I need to do what is best for my work and I want to get this novel published.
While this is true, it is not that motivating. It wakes up my inner critic and reminds her to buy enough gum for me to start sticking the pages of my manuscript together. Thankfully, this is where LeBron James comes in.
STEP THREE: Replace “I” with “LeBron James.” As in,
LeBron James is finishing the synopsis for his novel today because LeBron James has to do what is best for LeBron James and get LeBron James’ novel published.
See, for some reason, it sounds smarter and more necessary when it is happening to LeBron James. Of course LeBron James should take time for his synopsis so he can publish his novel. Go, LeBron, go!!
STEP FOUR: Stealthily replace LeBron’s name with your own. As in,
Jacey Eckhart is finishing the synopsis for her novel today because Jacey Eckhart has to do what is best for Jacey Eckhart and get Jacey Eckhart’s novel published.
Which also sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? Jacey Eckhart is a person I like. Jacey Eckhart spent two years writing and editing that novel. Jacey Eckhart should definitely finish that synopsis so she can sell her work, go to LA, and see LeBron James play basketball!!
If you, too, have to silence an inner critic before you can get to work, try the LeBron James method and let me know how it goes. Check out “The LeBron James Method” worksheet to get started!
I’m betting LeBron could take on my Spooky Little Twins, too. (They like to hang out with my inner critic.) What do you think?