I got kicked out of basketball practice — and off the basketball team — as a junior at Penn State Altoona.
I’d been butting heads with the coach continuously up to that point, so most of us — me and my now-ex-teammates — weren’t surprised. It was more a matter of “when” than “if.”
I still remember what I was thinking walking off the court that day.
I knew I was better than every player who was still on that basketball team, the players who were staying in the gym while I was walking out of it. But I couldn’t prove my point from the bleachers. I was a college junior without much of a playing resume, so my transfer options were limited (read: Zero). And merely talking about how good I was, which any clown could do, wouldn’t prove my point.
The only way posterity could serve me was for me to take my game to a level those Penn State Altoona players weren’t and probably wouldn’t ever get to: I had to make the pros in basketball.
This off-the-team incident happened January 2003. I signed my first pro basketball contract in August 2005. That’s more than 2 ½ years of:
- Not being on a team
- No one seeing basketball in my future
- Telling people I’d be going pro, with absolutely no proof and no prospects
- Knowing those ex-teammates had — at least to that point — out-performed me, career-wise
- Personal uncertainty around when or even if this pro basketball thing would even happen
- No pro teams calling or asking about a Division 3 player who didn’t even average double figures before being dismissed from the team
While we now know that it happened, me making it into pro basketball was far from a foregone conclusion for anyone outside of myself. And while I practiced and trained and hustled as much as possible to make it happen, it was my Mental Game — planning, strategizing, believing, and mental discipline — that glued it all together.
For Your Game
- Skills and Game are important and needed — Reasons are even more important. How many 6’4”, athletic guys think or wish or hope they could play professional sports? Thousands. Just like Jay-Z in yesterday’s post, motivations — reasons — are the real difference between making it or not.
- Long term goals require discipline and vigilance that most people simply don’t have. Most players in the situations I was in just quit. I know this to be true, as I get messages from these players every day. Most people in such a situation give up on it and move on as they don’t have the vision to think long term, nor the discipline to work a long term plan. Do you?
- When you know you have the goods, you can let time work for you. I knew what I could do, and I knew what the goal was. All I had to do was fill in the blanks between “here” and “there.” Sounds simple, but lots of people have no idea who/what/where they are, and no clearly-defined desired outcomes. Make sure you do.
What’s your long term goal, and what help do you need in strategizing for them? Reply to this and let me know.