3 Positive Stories of How to Find Your Purpose — Inspired by March Madness
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” — Coach John Wooden
This is an incredible time of year for excitement, emotion and dreams to come true. Whether you’re a basketball fan or just a casual observer, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement of March Madness. As a high school basketball coach — and former college player — I live for this time of year. Basketball is one of the biggest parts of my life. I’ve learned such a tremendous amount about life, helping others and myself through the game.
The reason why sports resonate so deeply with me is because I believe we can all find so much about our purpose, passion and overcoming adversity through our athletic experiences. We may initially play for the love of the game, but we learn as we go that competition, losing, winning and friendship are the greatest gifts that sports give us.
I decided to share a few stories from my playing and coaching careers to help illustrate the positive impact sports has had on my life. It’s helped me find my purpose and calling in life. It’s given definition and clarity to my life’s experiences, and it’s instilled discipline in how I approach each day. I hope you see the value in these stories and apply them to your life in a positive way.
1. Show People You Care — Lead with Empathy
“You can’t win, unless you learn to lose.” — Kareem Abdul Jabbar
One Win. That was all I had to my name during my first season as a high school basketball coach. Taking the positive out of a one-win season is not easy, but it is essential. I learned during my first season that winning is not the only thing that matters — it’s what you learn about yourself, the game and life that are far more important. It is truly the journey — not the destination — that matters most!
My coaching career started at one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in America. Situated just outside of Washington D.C., the school has a large Muslim, Latino and African-American population. Our team’s diversity was a perfect representation of the overall student body. Hard-working, respectful kids who cared for one another.
This made for a wonderful experience where the coaches and players could all learn about each other’s backgrounds. I learned my first Arabic words and gained insights into the culture of the various communities in the town. The previous season, the team had a .500 winning percentage and left over from that squad were some legitimately talented athletes. I figured there was room for growth.
Instead, it was a season of close losses but priceless life lessons.
Empathy, understanding and positive encouragement are the best operating bases from which to teach people. Particularly during times of adversity, you have to stay positive. This is as true on the basketball court as it is in life! Think about it — what are you facing today that has you down? What is standing in your way that you can overcome?
Change and tough times are going to affect all of us. If we turn and run away, or face them with a poor attitude, we’ll never learn and improve. In basketball, they say every team “makes a run.” This means, every team gets some momentum going and plays well in spurts for certain parts of a game.This is when everything coalesces and starts gelling for the unit.
Think about what “your run” looks like. How you will get your momentum and inspiration. You’ll find that you inspire others AND yourself when you are a person of empathy and integrity. To form deep connections, show from the beginning that you care about people — beyond a shared objective. When you genuinely care for others, they know it. It’s real and authentic.
Empathy builds trust and forms long-lasting relationships. Empathy can become a cornerstone for the way you treat others and yourself. Successful people lead with empathy. It’s essential in helping us find our purpose.
2. There is ALWAYS a Way to Get Better
“There is always someone better than you. Whatever it is that you do for a living, chances are, you will run into a situation in which you are not as talented as the person next to you. That’s when being a competitor can make a difference in your fortunes.” — Coach Pat Summitt
My passion for the game of basketball, competing and helping others grow is through the roof. I get the chills just thinking about building a winning team and doing the work necessary to achieve success. I love the process. I love the camaraderie of being around a group of people who are committed to winning and reaching their potential.
During my second season coaching, after losing an especially tough game, I vividly remember telling our kids to look at what we could do to get better. As a coach, I’ve always believed the next game would be our best. I follow the example of always finding a way to help the team and looking at what we don’t do well, to know what is required for improvement.
In life, after each loss, mistake or failure, I encourage you to concentrate on what you need to do to get better and move on. Always have something to look forward to in life! You can draw a tremendous amount of inspiration by having events and goals to aspire to and work towards.
My dreams and goals, times with my family, vacations and growth opportunities are all things that get me excited. They get my adrenaline flowing. I refuse to dwell in the negative. There’s always another game, another moment, another way to get better if we’re willing to pursue it.
What is your passion? I ask you: what do you find to be the intersection — in your life — between your passion and your natural talents? Identify this! Pursue this! And never, ever give up on improving your skill in this area. This may be coding, writing, coaching or painting. If you have natural talent for something and you love doing it — you have struck gold, my friend.
If you’re always willing to get better and improve, you’ll find that your purpose starts to come into greater focus each day. Soon, you’ll realize just how far along you already are on your path to living the life you desire most.
3. Keep a Positive Attitude at All Times
“Like life, basketball is messy and unpredictable. It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it. The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do that, the game — and life — will take care of itself.” — Phil Jackson
Let’s be honest — losing and adversity can take its toll on even the most sanguine of people. Losing is not easy, it never has been and never will be. But “losing” is absolutely a part of life. Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Steph Curry have all lost and learned from those games. We tend to learn and grow the most from some of our worst experiences and biggest losses.
Before LeBron James won a NBA championship, he first learned how to lose. The losses and adversity eventually led him to the top of the NBA world. Three championships later, James’ success has been defined by both his wins and losses. Instead of running away from the losses, he embraced them and kept a positive attitude. It’s made an enormous difference in the player and man he’s become.
If you’re willing to stay positive and faithful, this attitude of expectancy, when mixed with hard work, will carry you a long way. Recognize when people are trying to rob you of your joy. Don’t let anyone every deny you of your dreams. Move forward with positive energy and belief in what you can accomplish.
Stay positive through the good times and the bad. You never know when your breakthrough moment will come! Better to be prepared and open to opportunity and new relationships, while in a positive state of mind. Your greatest growth moments occur when you are in a positive state of mind. Enjoy March Madness and keep going on your journey!
Find Your Purpose
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