How Steph Curry Became The Best

I remember hearing my soon-to-be mentor and colleague in the area of sports psychology and performance David Cook pronounce these words at a workshop he was giving in the heart of Texas to a group of coaches. I reflected on the words that came from someone who has studied performance for many years and worked with so many talented individuals across all sports including Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs and PGA golfers. It inspired me to study and reflect on the lessons I had learned through playing and coaching sports and also working with park performers in sports, business, and life.



I thought about great athletes that I admired growing up including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. The common denominator amongst these 3 basketball players was an intense desire to be the best they could be every day and to compete to win every time they stepped on the court. They knew that the things they did in the off-season would reveal themselves during the season. One year, Magic Johnson worked all summer on becoming a better free throw shooter, driven by the fact that he wanted to be better than Larry Bird in this category and that it would help his team in the final moments of a game. His free throw shooting percentage was already just under 90%, but he strove to be better. To become HIS best with the intention of someday becoming one of THE best!

Which brings me to Steph Curry who was just awarded his second consecutive NBA MVP award – the first unanimous selection for MVP in the history of the NBA! Everyone is running out of words to describe his performance over the last year. When you think about his MVP season in the 2014-2015 season, you wonder how he could have improved…but he did. He broke his own record for 3 point shots made going from 286 last year to an incredible 402 this year. He was the first person to average over 30 points a game in less than 35 minutes per game for a full season. He also joined the select 50-40-90 club averaging over 50% shooting from 2 point land, 40 percent from 3 point range, and 90% from the free throw line. And, by the way, he helped lead his Golden State Warriors team to a record 73 wins in a season surpassing the 1996 Bulls team led by Michael Jordan.

Steph Curry with MVP Trophys

All of this begs the question: How did Steph Curry do this? What was the key to his success and how did he become even better than he was last year? Here are 3 things that Steph Curry and all great performers in sports business, and life do in the quest to become their best and maximize their potential:

  • Be Outcome-Driven and Process-Focused – All great performers are driven by purposeful goals and typically measured by specific outcomes. Once they define these goals, they lay them aside and focus on the process to achieve them thereby growing in the process. When you obsess about the outcomes, you tend to tense up both mentally and physically, and you lose sight of the things that you need to do to accomplish the outcomes. When you focus on the process, you are loose, fierce, and free and focus only on the current moment which helps to advance the ball toward your goal. Using Steph Curry as an example, he did not focus on making 402 3-pointers during every game that he played. He simply focused on the current moment, getting his legs into the shot, and following through to make the 3-point shot that he was in.
  • Focus on Being Your Best – Peak performers differentiate themselves by striving to be their best and don’t compare themselves to others. While they will sometimes use others to measure their progress and see what they need to do reach or surpass that level, they never try to be someone that they are not. They leverage their strengths, their talents, and their opportunities to maximize their potential. Inherent in this focus is the dedication, determination, and discipline toward becoming the best that you can be every day. Work ethic, attitude, persistence, and resiliency are all critical measures of how close you will get to maximizing your potential.
  • Develop an I Will Mindset – Throughout his career, Steph Curry has pursued and developed an I Will mindset. As a shooter, you have to! He was only recruited by a small school in Davidson out of high school, and he was graded pretty low as an NBA prospect (small, not a very good shooter, not a good ball handler). He never let any of those prophecies determine his possibilities. He worked hard to become the best he could become thereby becoming the best in the process. Great performers in all aspects of life always see things in terms of possibilities, not probabilities.

Steph Curry Dribbling

Growth and development are the overriding characteristics of peak performers in sports, business, and life. Focus on personal growth and developing your talents, skills, and opportunities, and the results will come. More than that, you will be able to say at the end of your life that you maximized your God-given talent and opportunities to the best of your ability positively impacting others along the way!

Question: How do you prepare to be your best every day?  You can leave a comment below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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