By: Jason Robinson & Mark Possis
Being a “Real One” and “Keeping It 100” goes together like peanut butter and jelly…ice cream and cake and any other tasty food combination you can think of (probably shouldn’t write on an empty stomach lol) The “Urban Dictionary” defines these two terms as follows:
“Real One”: someone that keeps it true to whomever they keeping around
“Keeping It 100”: to stay true; to be real; straight up
I don’t know about y’all but those are the kind of people that I love to have in my life. One of those guys is my friend Mark. He’s a student at the University where I work. We met in the gym of all places. While the others were in the gym across the hall playing pickup, he was in this gym alone putting in work. I thought to myself “that’s a total JRob move” as I watched him going hard doing skill work. After watching him workout and then give some random dudes the work, I had to talk to him and see what was up.
What I found was a “real one” who shared a lot of the same thoughts and values that I have from sports to faith. What should have been a five-minute talk turned into a 45-minute conversation that ended with the both of us deciding that we needed to meet up on the regular to put in some skill work and chop it up (Ironsharpening). We felt that we could push each other in basketball, in faith and life. From the first session to the present, we have challenged and encouraged each other to strive for all we were created to do.
Recently we got to chop it up about using God-given giftings to inspire others. That chop session turned in to this article that we’re writing together. There are many out there using their God-given gifts as a platform for a larger message, but which ones are for real? With so many people in society trying to put out an image or brand, it can become hard to recognize the genuine from the fake. To come across someone who’s able to live life against the grain and be true to themselves is a special thing and we as humans tend to be drawn to them. In the sports world there are some good examples out there.
A Famous “Real One”
Mark: Let's flashback to the NBA climate in 2015. Just like any other season, there was a draft, all 30 teams participated in the regular season, and they even awarded the MVP trophy to someone. However, there was one outright difference between this season and every single one prior, and that difference would single-handedly challenge, overcome, and redefine the essence of the entire NBA forever. That difference had a face and was the most spectacular show in basketball. He was unanimously appointed as must-see television by millions of fans and reporters across the world. In 2015, MVP Stephen Curry surged to superstardom, and snatched the throne from the long-beheld “king” of basketball, thus stealing the hearts and adoration of millions of fans.
With his swishing of unthinkable, absolutely impossible three-pointers, dazzling crossovers, and entertaining humiliation of defenders, it quickly became obvious that it was Stephen Curry’s world, and all we could do is kick back and eagerly await his next buzzer-beater half-court shot in it. His abrupt, sudden reign over the NBA warranted a swarm of propaganda.
Every kid suddenly wanted to rep his Under Armour shoes instead of LeBron’s Nikes, practice shooting three pointers instead of dunks, and throw passes behind-the-back instead of from the chest. His rise to superstardom was Jordan-esque. The scrawny, undersized, and continually underestimated point guard for the Golden State Warriors had suddenly become the most iconic underdog story in sports, a beloved national figure, and the only name headlining SportCenter.
How can I be like Steph Curry? Became the most urgent thought on every aspiring basketball player’s mind. What is this guy’s secret? Became the code that every reporter was attempting to crack. All eyes turned to the guy who achieved immense success despite innumerable odds, and all ears eagerly attuned to hear how he did it.
Steph then accepted this platform and capitalized on it beautifully; he did not hesitate to give the credit and glory to his Lord and Savior, and expose his Christian faith’s critical importance to him. Amazingly, people all across the country then began to take pride in their faith, and incorporate it into basketball. You suddenly could not walk into an AAU tournament without seeing players with “I can do all things...” written on their shoes like Steph, or players tapping their chest and pointing to the sky after a made three pointer in Curry-like fashion (speaking from personal observation). Stephen Curry had inspired colossal, worldwide change by achieving success in an exemplary manner.
How was Steph able to inspire such paramount positive-change in the world? It was because he himself acted as the defining example and was an illustration of an ideal template. He achieved astronomical success, then capitalized on this sudden desire to be like him by exposing his reliance on the Higher Power that got him to where he was. In general, people want to be like those whom they admire. Steph recognized that and utilized his platform in the best way possible: by exposing how he leads a meaningful Christian life to achieve his sought after success. That is the job of any great leader: to put their power into action and inspire positive change. It is the act of taking whatever is inside them--whatever it is that drives them to be great-- and leading others to that same process, and power source from which they withdraw.
You Have A Gift Too!
Jason: How do we use whatever our talent is to inspire others? For me, I have spent the last 25 years using the game of basketball to open the door of opportunity for me to invest in and inspire others. One of my earliest mentors used to say that you can tell a lot about a person by how they approach their craft. In sports, the heat of the battle exposes everything about you, the good, bad and the ugly. When you are locked in battle with someone you can tell what kind of person they are by how they get after it. You can tell who’s really about it and who’s faking it. In my work with athletes, I have found that the guys who get the most respect are the ones who’s game matches their life. It’s a great set up to have some positive influence.
As I’ve mentioned in the previous article in the “True Confidence” series, that talent or gift that God has given us is that means through which we can influence others. People are drawn to talent. We work hard to be good at what we do just to get the opportunity to show what we got. When we put it on display, we open ourselves to the scrutiny of others. There is a certain responsibility that comes with being good. Unlike the infamous “I am not a role model” statement that Charles Barkley made back in the day, the fact that you are noticed automatically makes you a role model whether you want to be or not. The “real ones” like Steph Curry understand that and have a positive influence not only on their teammates, but all those who are watching him. For you and me, the question we have to ask is how is it that we influence those around us?
Mark: We as Christians have learned to walk by faith and not by sight, but we can not expect the world to. In fact, the very people we seek to influence and inspire are the ones who often need to see in order to believe in something as great as God’s love. God does not show himself to these people in His pure form in order to prove His existence, because frankly, finite human knowledge is incapable of comprehending His essence. Instead, God accomplishes materialization through us . God lives through us Christians; we are the vehicles through which our kinfolk can physically observe and be inspired by Christ’s manifestation. Like Steph Curry, we must first demonstrate virtue in order to effectively lead others to it.
A Real One (Or Two) In Plain Clothes
Jason: What does that look like? It’s being that person who “keeps it 100”. You need to remain true to who you are. You can’t be focused on putting out an image, because people can spot that a mile away. “Be who you is, not who you ain’t” is the motto that I have lived by. When you live your life openly in front of people, it allows them to see you as a human being and not this image you put forth. It makes it possible for someone to see themselves in you and relate on a human level. It’s what made Steph someone easy to cheer for and relate to. He didn’t put on heirs, he just was who he was and owned it. It’s a realization that you haven’t arrived but that you always have room to grow.
In the bible, the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:12 says “ Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” Paul recognized that he wasn’t all the way there, but that he is in a constant search to be better. The root of his confidence was in knowing his source. When you understand who you are, you don’t have to create something but just walk in who you are and that will show as you encounter people. For Mark and I, it showed in that initial meeting.
For the both of us it was the shared love of basketball that sparked our friendship. I was impressed with Mark’s passion not only for the game but his desire to find his purpose in life. He was open and real with me about what he was searching for. As we began to meet regularly, I discovered that my initial impression was right. His work ethic was motivating. He gave it 100% and didn’t try to impress but was just as comfortable in those moments when the drills weren’t going his way as he was when he nailed it. Even when I struggled he was extremely encouraging in a genuine way that reflected the level of humility that he walked with. That won me over. That first workout let me know that I was working with a “real one”.
Mark: From the moment I met J Rob, I could tell that he was someone who specialized in making people feel special. As I’ve gotten to know him more, that still rings true. From that initial conversation in the gym, he offered knowledge and insight freely, and was a genuinely listening to everything I had to say. I could tell right away by talking to him that he was an inspiration to many, and someone who was in unison with God’s plan for his life. It was refreshing, and the beginning of a great friendship that is founded upon iron sharpening iron.”
We need to work hard to be exemplary in our walk with Christ, because if we don’t, and we stray from the path, who would desire what it is we have? Who would be inspired to follow the lead of someone who fails at what they preach? We were all meant to be the lens through which others observe Christ’s immensity. We therefore need to be credible in the lives we lead if we are to ever truly inspire someone to be like us. Without our credible example, people may never come to truly know the immaculate transcendence of Christ in their lives, which honestly is like trying to dunk a basketball with no ball; it is living life without the most essential, enabling piece.
To be frank, credibility enables influence, and success creates a desire for it. To enact this in our own lives, we must learn a few things. First and foremost, we need to become attuned to and aligned with God’s energies in our life--like His word, His works, His creations, and His beloved Son-- and embody what it means to truly go down a virtuous path. We cannot go down the right path if we do not know which one it is.
Then, we need to embrace every aspect of our treacherous journey, along with every obstacle that may come with it, because, contrary to what many people may think, exposing our shortcomings is actually how we have greater influence. Inspiration comes from other people observing us achieve success in the face of imperfection. No one is perfect, therefore no one can be truly inspired by someone acting as if they are. Good leadership and real inspiration come from this level of transparency. Steph Curry achieved this relatability through overcoming relentless criticism, and chronic ankle injuries. Anybody can sprain their ankle, and everybody faces unwanted criticism. Thus, when Curry publicly faced the most extreme ends of both of these, and still, in the face of it, became the league’s first ever unanimous MVP, his story then became a template that other people could use for their own lives. The immaculate Steph Curry was in fact human just like the rest of us. If he could do it, then we could too, in whatever we decide to pursue. This inspiration--this hope, and brighter outlook on what is in front of and above us-- is what we are striving for.
Unfortunately, with the way cultural mindsets are shifting in today’s society, credible, righteous Christian leaders are getting harder to come by. There is a chance that our individual life may be the only opportunity that some people get in order to experience the beautiful impact Christ can have on a life. It then becomes our obligation to be the example we are trying to set, and to lead others to our divine power source.
We can do it: through the embodiment of the above tactics, we can have that “Steph Curry” level of influence in our lives, which we were all meant to have, whether that be on millions of people, or the one or two people we see at work everyday. No influence we have is too small, because we never can know the ripple effect it may have, or the positive change it may create. God is the one in charge of orchestrating that ripple effect; all we need to do is make sure we do our part in it righteously, and to the best of our abilities.
The Real Deal
Mark: If we are credible, transparent, and exemplary in what we do, we can influence and inspire others to desire the amazing Christian foundation which we have built our lives upon, and which enables our joyous, enriched approach to life.
Jason: So here’s the million dollar question, what is the foundation that your gift is sitting on? Are you trusting in your own abilities to get you to that ultimate purpose in life or are you allowing the one who gave you those abilities to guide you into your purpose? When you grab hold of the one who gave you the gift, you have connected with the ultimate source of “True Confidence”
Stay Forever Strong
About The Authors
Jason Robinson serves on the staff of The Navigators Collegiate Ministry at The Univ. Of Minnesota. Jason has emphasized the call of 2 Timothy 2:2 to empower others who reproduce themselves. He has 25 years of experience building leaders and multicultural organizations from the deep south to the upper midwest. He also has a mentoring/discipling ministry known as "The SportMentor" that has invested in athletes and leaders around the world both in person and online.
Mark Possis is an experienced basketball player, singer, and writer. He attends the University of Minnesota, where he is looking to pursue a marketing major paired with a creative writing minor. He practices an Orthodox Christian faith and beholds it as the most important aspect of his life”.