7 Words from Shaq That Changed My Life

Following the conclusion of a basketball game, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson Jr. and Charles Barkley all sit around a table analyzing plays, discussing the game, and poking fun. Typically, before the game begins they all make predictions and argue their reasoning. Shaq, who tends to play the devil’s advocate, had predicted in opposition to everyone else which didn’t pan to his favor when they had lost. In this post-game discussion, many jokes were aimed at Shaq but when asked what his thoughts were he simply replied, “I’m not a hater, I’m a congratulator.” Compared to the typical defensive response that comes from being wrong, Shaq was able to applaud the winning team and admire their victory despite betting against them.

“I’m not a hater, I’m a congratulator.” — Shaquille O’Neal

Often times we’re swept up in the trend of bashing on celebrities, musicians, design, or any mainstream part of our culture because the bandwagon looks so appealing when you see everyone else on it, and so it becomes easy to tag along. Remember the notorious question of, “If your friend told you to jump off a bridge would you do it?” Although the rhetoric is cliche, it carries powerful and truthful notion relating to this subject. On a less cliche note, I want to pose the question of: Is your critique or hate truly an opinion of your own or is it a collection of other people’s opinions around you? Another question to note is, by contributing your opinion are you providing any value? Most times, we outwardly project our opinions with no intent of contributing anything of value. We’ve conditioned ourselves to feeling satisfied by the mere act of talking, and since it takes little to no effort to hate on others but takes a lot of work to be a person with valuable input, we revert to doing what’s easy: hating.

“Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate”

There are far too many people out there kicking and screaming over the things they dislike or hate, and in the meantime the people of value are sitting back patiently and quietly keeping to themselves. Being a hater is an easy way of attracting attention because it seemingly comes natural—think about how much we complain—and it’s much easier than having to put in the work to have a valuable voice.

Being a hater will get you noticed, but likely by the wrong people. Although bashing on others may come more natural and easy, it still requires energy. You can drain yourself being a hater or you can focus your energy on positive efforts that’ll positively affect yourself as well as others.

“Negative judgments lead to negative emotions.” — Donald A. Norman, Emotional Design

Shaq’s words immediately resonated with me, and in that very moment changed my life. A realization swept over me: I want to be a person of positivity and of value, not just noise and opinion. I wanted to be someone that when I talk, others pay attention and listen. When you’re a hater people hear you, but they don’t listen. I want to see myself as a catalyst for change, not a source of negative energy. By no longer needing to exert any effort to hate on others, I can refocus that energy towards bettering myself and helping others. From that moment on I made a shift in my life, I made the conscious decision to focus my energy on the things I care about rather than the things I don’t. “I’m not a hater, I’m a congratulator” is about contributing value over criticism; being helpful, not hurtful; doing unto others as you would like done unto you.

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Alongside Shaq’s wisdom, I love his constant enthusiasm and am a huge fan of his humor. Throughout his basketball career he knew how to find the perfect balance of professionalism and play, which many players seem to lack. Below are some of my favorite Shaq videos.