As a basketball trainer it’s always fun meeting a new player. I recently had a session with a guy who’s making the transition from college to pro basketball. When I asked him about his plans, his answer got to me. He said whatever God wills for him is what he’s going to do. That led to a great workout and long conversation after. The intriguing part was the lack of hesitation to bring God into the equation. The fact that he was putting in the work but leaving the results to God got me excited. There are millions of players trying to make some team somewhere. Of course not everyone makes every team, but the question is what separates those that make it from those that don’t. I’ve found that it goes beyond having talent, it’s all about a deeply rooted confidence that will drive you to succeed. It’s a confidence that is earned by spending hours working at something that you know with every part of your being that you’re called to. Driven people allow their passion to fuel their work. They will sacrifice whatever it takes to make it because they know the goal they are working for. For athletes, they know from an early age that their love for their sport will carry them through the rough patches that come on their journey to success. Not everyone has the will to make it but those that recognize their source is beyond them and there’s something bigger than them that’s fueling their passion.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalms 27:1 ESV
What the author of this psalm understood is that no matter what happens God is in control of everything. Knowing that someone bigger than you is in control can serve as the foundation to strive forward towards your goals. That confidence will drive you to get up at 5am to put in work. It will help you finish that last drill when every part of your body wants to shut down. It will drive you in the last two minutes of the game when you want to quit but the game is on the line. It will put you back in the gym because you weren’t satisfied with your last performance. It’s an attitude that will push you to become “that one” How do you know that you’re on the right track to become “that one”. Here are four questions that I believe will help you in using your gift/talent to not only make the team but succeed in life:
Who gave me the gift? Every gift comes from somewhere. Each one of us have abilities and giftings we have been endowed with. It’s about recognizing the source of your gift.
What’s the purpose of the gift? That gift isn’t just about making you great. It is a piece of a puzzle to a larger picture. There’s a greater purpose to your gift.
When and where do I work the gift? Every chance you get to make yourself better at your craft. Whether it’s in practice or at game time, you have a stage on which to display the gift you’ve been given. You never know who’s watching.
Why work the gift? As an athlete, your performance is meant to bring joy to some and to inspire others to follow your example on their way to their God-given purpose. Your gift will open up doors for yourself and more importantly for others!
Once you grasp the true source of your gift then you will find the fuel to drive your passion to succeed. That knowledge will set you up to operate in that gift, but that gift has to be handled correctly...with humility.
You Have To Get Low To Go High
In my work with student athletes over the last two decades, I’ve seen students come in with high expectations and demands for the season. Some live up to them and others fail and find themselves disappointed. It’s all about attitude! A humble attitude will get you very far. The most successful ones don’t let their past successes (or failures) drive their performance. The start of a new season is always a fun time for coaches. We want to see who is coming in ready to take on the season. It’s where we see who has been putting in the work and who’s coasting in on past accomplishments. We see who’s coming in with a winning attitude, ready to put in the work necessary to win championships. They understand the old adage that says “you’re only as good as your last win”. What does that really mean?
In simple terms it says that you were good enough to get that last win, but what are you going to do to get the next one! We’ve all heard the stories of athletes who get the biggest win of the year and instead of celebrating, they head right back to the gym to put in more work. That person probably didn’t feel like they played to their full potential and needed to sharpen up those aspects of their game that they felt were lacking.
This is the same person that is the first one in the gym and the last one out. The one who when team practice is done they get with their individual trainer and put in more work. In short this individual is one who has a unique perspective on the game they love and work hard to perfect. It’s called humility.
Humility isn’t about thinking less of yourself, it’s about having the confidence to know that it’s not about you. The humble person will not take the abilities they’ve been gifted with for granted. They will do everything they can to perfect the gift. They will be “stewards” of that gift.
In the last article we discussed how that talent you’ve been gifted with comes from the one who created you and that gift is ultimately for Him. Let’s take that a step further and talk about the the responsibilities that come with the gift. The difference between the one that makes the team and the one that doesn’t comes down to what they do to prepare for their moment.
The humble player doesn’t get caught up on their last success. They enjoy the fruits of it, but they get back to putting in the work that got them there. Successful people, businesses and organizations never rest on their past accomplishments, they live up to them. Long term success is based on always doing what’s necessary to maintain it over a long period of time. As they continue to succeed they create a platform to share their message. As one of my mentors always says, they “earn the right to be heard!”
“A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.” Proverbs 18:16 ESV
The gift opens the door to proclaim the message. The message is meant to encourage and motivate others to strive towards that something greater in their own lives. You have to be the example for them to see that it’s possible to achieve the greatness you were created to achieve. That greatness is a testimony of all that is possible through the one who created you....God!
Each of us have a purpose that is to be fulfilled, but it’s those who maintain the right perspective and carry it through to completion that enjoy the fruits of their labor. It’s that level of success that inspires others to pursue their dreams. That gift you possess goes beyond your benefit, it’s a means to share the message of the grace that comes from God. Your responsibility is to manage it well. What’s your gift? Where is that gift supposed to lead you?
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:” 1 Peter 4:10
Stay Forever Strong!