My daughter just finished her first season as a basketball player for the JV team at her high school.
After four months of sitting in the stands to cheer the team on, I have learned a few things:
1) Attitude is everything.
This year’s team did not win a single game. They came close several times but were never victorious. One loss was particularly distressing. Our girls were leading by one point with five seconds to go. At the very last second, an opposing teammate stole the ball and sunk a three-pointer just as the buzzer sounded.
After their last game on Saturday morning (and one more loss), the team went out for a late breakfast at a local diner. Julia said everyone was in high spirits, despite their dismal season. Later, I saw that several of her teammates had posted on Julia’s Facebook wall, congratulating each other on a great season where friendships and memories were made and lots of laughter was shared.
We can’t be winners all the time. It’s easy to win graciously…but what about when we lose? Can we count the blessings anyway? Can we be grateful for the experience? Can we separate our identity from our performance?
2) Don’t be afraid to try new things.
My daughter had never played organized basketball before but she was willing to give it a go. I admire her courage. She rose to the challenge, learned all she could, tried her hardest, and made new friends.
Life is short. Don’t let fear stop you from truly experiencing it. Get off the sidelines. Challenge yourself every day.
3) Know your strengths.
There is one girl on Julia’s team who is around 5’1″. At first glance she was an unlikely basketball player, but she became one of the team’s best guards. She was tough, tenacious, and relentless. She got the ball and passed it to the point guard every time. That was her role. She didn’t try to be a point guard, a center, or a power forward. She was a guard and she was the best guard she could be.
You are the only you on this planet. No one else can fill your shoes. No one else can make the contribution you make. Whatever you are best at, do it. Don’t get sidetracked by trying to fill another person’s role. Be the best you can be.
4) Don’t let limitations stop you.
Another one of Julia’s teammates has Down’s Syndrome. Her mother had told the coach she had no interest in her daughter riding the bench all season. She expected her to play. And play she did. Nobody worked harder than this young lady. She gave her all in every game and made several 3 point shots.
Make a decision today that you won’t ride the bench. If there is something you want to do, try.
5) Don’t pay attention to the people in the stands.
There will always be naysayers; those who are with you when you are winning but who are only too happy to point out your flaws when things begin to go south. They are not out there on the court. You are. So focus on the task at hand and do what you are there to do.
Life, like basketball season, is short.
Stop riding the bench.
Get in the game.
Take your place and know your role.
No more half-hearted efforts. Play your heart out. Just like basketball players leave it all on the court, pour your energy into living all the life out of this day.
Don’t run from a challenge. Meet it head on.
If you get knocked down, get back up.
Celebrate the wins. Learn from the losses.
Then, when the game is over and the lights are turned off, you will know that you seized your moment on this earthly stage and made an impact.
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”—Michael Jordan