Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Prove Them Wrong

Last week I attended a college basketball game. Early in the first half, a point guard from the visiting team attempted a long-range shot. In addition to it being highly contested, he miscalculated and the ball missed the entire rim. Fans of the home team immediately yelled, "Air ball! Air ball! Air ball!" For the remainder of the game, any time he touched the ball, no matter where he was on the court and whether he was in position to shoot or not, the crowd erupted in a chorus of, "Air ball! Air ball! Air ball!"

This collective attempt to distract players is normal in sports and can be extremely effective. Without proper coaching, focus, and confidence, a well guarded shot or simple miscalculation can impact a player's performance for the duration of a game. Experienced players master tuning out distractions, regardless of how noisy, relentless, and personal they become.

You may feel as if life is a lot like those fans. The shots you've taken may have been highly contested, miscalculated, or a combination of both, and each time you try again, life reminds you of your air ball moments. As soon as you build enough courage to go back out there, someone—at times, even you—is screaming what you perceive to be your worst moments and attributes. Quitter! Dropout! Unemployable! Divorced! Damaged! Victim! Abandoned! Convict! Angry! Depressed! Broken! Failure! Worthless! Unlovable!

How do you quiet the yelling? How can you make progress when you are continuously reminded of your worst? How do you stop the yelling when you believe it more than anyone else? You quiet the yelling with action. You make progress by focusing on one play, one task, one goal at a time. You stop believing the yelling by remaining engaged with and committed to improving your life, for life. 

Your goals may have been contested. Try again. You may have taken some incredibly wild shots. Own that and learn from it. But never, ever, ever, ever give up. Unlike with a game, your refusal to show up will not stop the hate-filled, destructive mantras. When you no longer try, you concede and behave in ways that confirm the worst of what you think of yourself. Instead of confirming the taunts, prove them wrong.

As for that particular game, the player who threw that errant shot remained present and a valuable member of his team. By the end of the game he was the third leading scorer and more importantly, his team won. He didn't allow ridicule to stop him and you don't have to let life's ridicule and reminders to stop you. Get back out there and prove them wrong.

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