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Jun 9, 2020 in 

How to Reshape the Past You Dislike to Build the Future You Want

If Michael Jordan can transform basketball using this technique, you can change your life using the same techniques.

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James Tibbs

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While watching ESPN’s The Last Dance, featuring the story of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, I noticed a consistent theme. Jordan routinely used setbacks as fuel to propel him past the competition. How did he do it? It’s called Reconstruction Relationships using Purpose Capital. The next 4 examples illustrate how Michael Jordan did it, and reveals how you can too.


  1. LaBradford Smith of the Washington Wizards told Michael Jordan “good game” after scoring 37 pts against him. In the guise of sportsmanship, Smith’s statement was routine. For Jordan, it was not a “good game” however, since he had been outplayed by a no-name player. The next night the teams met again, but with a far different outcome. Jordan scored 37 points in the first half, matching Smith’s scoring total in the last game! Jordan used the previous game as purpose capital to reconstruct the relationship.


  1. When Charlotte Hornet guard BJ Armstrong secured the game scoring in the last 20 seconds, he screamed in jubilation and starred down his former Chicago Bulls teammates. For the moment, Armstrong gloated over the victory, as Jordan took note. The Hornets defeated the Bulls. Armstrong and the teammates would not win another game, as the Bulls who went on to win three straight in the series and won the NBA Finals that year. Jordan used BJ Armstrong’s celebration as purpose capital to reconstruct the relationship.


  1. When Nick Anderson of the Orlando Magic, said, "45 isn't 23" the Magic had defeated the Bulls. The next game Jordan changed back to his famed number 2 Jordan was still rusty after having played baseball the previous 18 months. Wanting the feeling of his former glory days, the jersey change didn't help the Bulls win that year. However, in the following year, 23 returned and won another championship. Jordan used the comments and the defeat as purpose capital to reconstruct the relationship.


  1. Super Sonics head coach George Karl decided to snub Michael Jordan at a restaurant before the start of the Finals. Jordan and Karl are North Carolina Tar heels who played golf together. Jordan said, “He walked right past me, you're gonna do this? OK, fine. That's all I needed. That's all I needed — for him to do that — and it became personal with me.” In the series, Jordan would average 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2 assists. The Bulls defeated the Super Sonics, 4-2 and went on to capture their fourth NBA championship. Jordan reshaped the snub, and built another championship. Jordan used Karl’s brushoff as purpose capital to reconstruct the relationship.


Reconstructing relationships draws from the deep wells of purpose creating rich experiences also known as purpose capital. In each of Jordan’s examples, he drew from the experience, reframed what it meant, and stored the motivation that lead to wins. This is the habit loop that made Jordan so successful. Despite the challenges, Michael Jordan turned his human experience into a rich experience, thereby breaking the chains that keep others players on the plateau of average. Rich experiences can only emerge when the past is reconstructed despite the instability of the moment.


Purpose capital is the result of the thoughts that emerge from moments of instability. As an infrastructure of purpose itself, purpose capital is a currency that can be spent or used to resist the urge to quit. LaBradford Smith discovered how purpose rich Michael Jordan was, as did Jordan’s former teammate BJ Armstrong. Jordan showed Nick Anderson and George Karl how much purpose capital he possessed too, as well as the rest of the National Basketball Association.


Reconstructing relationships produce purpose capital. When the past is turned into a rich experience, purpose capital can be spent on the present. Mentally reconstruct the past, but this time you’ll win – you’re still in the game. This habit will build up your purpose capital. The more you look at life through this lens you’ll win your own championships and use your opponents as allies that strengthen your future.


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