Last night I attended a high school basketball game. My friend's son was playing in the game, so I went to support. At the beginning of the fourth quarter they were down by 20 points. As I looked at the faces of the young men on that court, their faces told a story of defeat, even though there was still eight minutes to be played, they doubted they had a chance to win. I couldn't help myself, I moved to the front row and begin to scream to each player to keep their heads in the game. As the referee blew the whistle to start the fourth, I started on the minds of those young men.
I told one kid, get ready, your opportunity to be big is coming, I told another kid, play big and smart. The score was 51-31, the crowd that was looking at me weird at the beginning started to see the body language of the players change. The crowd started to get involved. One lady turned to me and said "keep talking, because that coach sure doesn't have anything to say."
See doubt is a paralyzing thing, the dictionary defines it as to consider unlikely, hard to believe and mistrust. When doubt is present, your confidence will be sapped. Many have failed to take the next step, to start a business or go back to school because an element of doubt was present.
As I began to shout at each of those young men, something really begin to happen. They started playing harder and smarter. The turn overs that plagued them in the first three quarters were gone. With each shot made, their confidence grew. With four minutes to go, the score was 51-42, the atmosphere was electric. People where given high fives to each other, the young men were constantly looking toward me for words of encouragement. It was an awesome feeling.
Before we knew it, the score was 54-51 with a minute to go. The other team made two free throws, 56-51. I looked #10 in the eyes, I said your moment is coming, be ready. Fifteen seconds left, #10 shoots a three pointer, he misses. BUT wait, there is a foul on the play. He goes to the line to shoot three free throws. First one, SWISH!! Second one, same thing. The third one looks short, barely rims in. The other team takes the ball down the court, the pressure defense is on. The score is 56-54. They turn the ball over with nine seconds remaining. Several players look over at me, I point to my head, PLAY SMART.
The ball is being passed around, it's loose on the ground, time expires. Final score 56-54.
The score board said they lost, but on this night, the Basha Junior Varsity Basketball team won. Because they learned, not to look at the score, just play the game with confidence.
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Dr. Will is an author, speaker and leadership consultant....