Ever find yourself doing what you know how to do but it doesn't seem to be good enough? For some reason, things just don't seem to connect like they always have. The shots that used to go in, stop. The passes that connected don't. You're taking L's from things that you are normally used to dominating. Now you find yourself underperforming. Not measuring up to the standards that you are used to. Where did my confidence go?
I’ve been in this spot before, a few times. One of the most memorable was back at the University of Illinois. Just got back on campus, eager to hit the courts. Stepped on and the game wasn’t there. Cats I should take in my sleep, I struggled to take on. Dropped games I should have dominated. Game was broke. It came to a head during IM playoffs where we lost a game we should not have. I couldn’t play my way out of a paper bag. It was the only time that I actually was in tears after a game because I felt I let my team down. My point guard sat right beside me, put his arm around me and let me know that I was still the baller and man that I was before the game. Dan said he would do whatever it took to get me on track and he challenged me to look at myself and see if I was relying on things I couldn’t rely on anymore.
He said that I was going to the same old tools in my bag that worked before. He suggested that there’s some tools that are in the bag that I may not have seen were there and it’s time to bring those out. He suggested I get in the gym with his roommate who was one of the most fundamentally sound guys we knew. Tommy and I got in the lab and he walked me through some things. It was kinda like soccer where the best way to advance the ball is to actually go back a little to pick up what you need to get that ball farther. We went back in the basics and put in the work not only on the game but it became a mental workout as well. He helped me find my better self. Over time…not only did I get my groove back but I added things that made me even better than before.
What I learned is that I got so confident in what was, I couldn’t see that there was more. I needed to find someone who could push me to go for more. Tommy and Dan really helped me figure out that it wasn’t really about basketball, but about how I was looking at life. I never would have seen it on my own because I was too caught up in the circumstances. It took an objective and loving friend to point out what needed to be fixed.
That was a lesson that I have found myself going back to at various stages in my life. Each time it hit different, but the principle was the same. Whenever something that used to work doesn't anymore, it's time to change up what you're doing. I'm not saying that you throw out what you have learned up till that point. What I'm saying it is time to dig a little deeper into your bag to see if there are more tools that you haven't discovered how to use.
Growth is a part of the process we call life. From birth to death, there is always something that we are growing into. The roadblocks happen when we either fail to recognize opportunities to grow or we get satisfied where we are. Sometimes it takes disappointment or crisis to highlight our need to grow. Fred DeVito said it best" If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you" Life's best lessons are learned in the midst of challenges. If you are you willing to do what it takes to get through it, how?
There is no magic formula, but I can offer a few suggestions to help you get a read on your situation:
Recognize the opportunity - See the setbacks for the opportunity it is to get better. Pain is the indication that something isn't right and tells you that something needs to be done .
Examine the possiblities - Stop and take a look at what you're doing. You will realize that you are not as good as you thought you were. Guess what...that's okay! Don't be afraid to see the things that you don't want to see. If you really want to change then you need to be willing to go there. It will take some time and it will require some help to see it.
Allow others to speak into you - We can't always see everything because we are in the middle of it. That is where a trusted friend or mentor comes in handy. They not only have your best interest at heart, but the real ones are willing to invest the time and effort to help you get it right. Humble yourself and
Do work - No magic pills here. You need to get with that person or persons that can push you and get to work. Be willing to grind it out no matter how difficult or how long it takes. You may have to go backwards and re-learn how to use the tools in your bag. Other times you need to pick up some new tools in the bag that you didn't know were there. Once again it will require humility and a willingness to suck at something for a minute in order to rise up to the next level.
These things will help you get a R.E.A.D on conquering that latest roadblock and elevate to a new level. There is always more for us to do, but are you willing to rise up to the challenge?
Stay Forever Strong!