1. Know It’s A Contact Sport

  • No matter what goal you are trying to achieve, inevitably there will be trials, setbacks, disappointments or “fouls” that may discourage or hinder you. Position your mind to understand in advance that “adversity is not only inevitable but essential; for how else do we measure our growth, our faith, or our ultimate desire to win?” If you want to succeed, your expectations must be in balance with your aspirations to do so. Dreaming to play the game is one thing. Expecting to win it despite the fouls you may encounter is another. “Before you dive into the ocean of possibilities, you must at the very least consider there may be sharks nearby!” It is not suggested that you be afraid, just knowledgeable and prepared. Preparation is your best weapon against fear and adversity.
  • Assist: Write down your specific goal(s). (For instance, “I want to be rich” is not specific, but rather “I want to secure an additional $50K in sales commissions this quarter.” Make a list of three to five major “fouls” you may encounter in attempts to achieve your goal. Then write down how you may best overcome these fouls. Finally, decide if your expectation for achieving your goal is as strong as your aspiration to do so. If so, you’re ready to strategize your plan and go for it! Play to win! If not, reassess your motivation for achievement. You either need to set new goals or learn to overcome the fears that are keeping you from pursuing your current ones.

    2. Get in Shape, Stay in Shape

  • Once you have established what the goal is, you must go about the task of the planning, preparation and practice needed to achieve it. This takes persistence, perseverance as well as patience. (That’s a lot of P’s!) Ask yourself what you must consistently do to achieve your goal? If your goal is to lose weight, likely exercise is a consistent goal. One day a week, or “on the days I feel l like it,” just won’t cut it. If you are marketing a new product or service, networking or prospecting every once in awhile will seldom accomplish sales. If you want to be a writer then write – a lot! If you wish to sing, sing a lot! Consistently and proficiently practice your craft or perform your tasks and don’t let up just because you achieve a little success, unless a little success is your ultimate goal. Likewise, do not let up because you experience a little failure or letdown. In sports, good players or teams prepare to win games; great players or teams prepare to win Championships! What are you playing for? Get in shape and stay in shape and you will soon learn persistence, perseverance and patience have just rewards. Remember, “WORKING UP the ladder of success requires WORKING OUT to sustain the climb!”
  • Assist: Develop a 30-day, 90-day, 6-motnh, 1-yr picture. But don’t stop there. Depending on what you want to achieve, you have to have an idea of what the next 2-5 years will look like as well. However, regardless of how much you plan and look ahead, the majority of your journey will always be made up of consistent single steps and strides. You will become what you repeatedly do. Revisit your plans after the designated milestone to see how far you’ve come. Reward yourself somehow for good practice and achieved mini-goals. This will help keep your motivation up.

    3. Be Coachable

  • How well do you listen? Most people tend to believe they are excellent listeners, and many are – as long as things are going well. One true test of listening is being able to hear not so favorable
    criticism constructively and then use it to actually improve. Being coachable requires you to remove the negative emotions that often surface when we hear that we are performing inadequately or not up to our potential. It’s allowing ourselves to be open and flexible when we are advised or discover for ourselves that we must alter our current plan of action. It’s the realization that in order to grow there will be times when we have to be uncomfortable. Whether we are receiving direction from others or our inner spirit, we have to listen to the voice that says, “Challenge yourself because you can do better.” It is true that everyone is a critic and that you cannot please everyone. However, it is also true that no man (or woman) is an island. We learn and grow from each other so we don’t have to take criticism so personally. In order to truly be coachable, keep in mind, “The goal should never be as much to be approved as it is to be IMPROVED!”
  • Assist: Take time out to actually ask 3 or 4 relevant people how they perceive you in an area you feel you might need improvement. Don’t seek the advice or opinions of people who will automatically tell you that you are fabulous in every way (…unless you truly are. Some of us have that gift…yeah right!) Take note of how it makes you feel to be told where or how you need to improve. If you are overly sensitive to hearing the truth from trusted mentors or colleagues, you are stunting your growth. Make a commitment to change in one area you feel you need to improve upon. Find an accountability partner who will constructively and honestly help you in this area until you achieve the desired growth you seek.

    4. Handle the Ball

  • You’ve heard it said that “the ball is in your court” and “You are the ball handler in your game of life.” There will be times when trials will make you wish you could just throw that ball away and get out of the game altogether. These are times when there seems to be so much to accomplish that winning looks bleak, let alone deciding which decision to make, direction to go or play to run. This is when you have to make small advancements by “dribbling towards the goal.” Choose to accomplish one small step or task at a time. Appreciate the little victories because they are the driving momentum to inch us closer to our ultimate goals. It may seem that you are not advancing or improving very quickly, but short bursts of energy or advancement are better than no advancement at all. “Much like a basketball, human beings are resiliently equipped to bounce back, as long as we keep giving ourselves a little push.” Remember this and encourage yourself to have the faith and wisdom to work through life’s hurdles and obstacles – because you can.
  • Assist: Think back to the most difficult challenge you’ve had to face. Don’t focus on something you are going through right now, but something in the past. Chances are if you are still here, you made it through that challenge. Take a moment and be thankful. Write a note to yourself, God, a friend, or whomever you credit with helping you through that difficult moment. Post the words “I have succeeded before and I WILL succeed again because I Have a Winner’s Mentality!” somewhere that you may look at it and meditate on it daily. If a considerable amount of time has passed and you feel you never really got past that difficult moment in your life, you may need to seek counseling to help you in this area. Don’t delay.

    5. Make the Assist

  • If you’re not careful, you’ll get so caught up in the illusion that life is all about you and your problems that you will be hosting pity parties with no guests. In those times especially, help someone else! The great motivator Zig Ziglar is famous for saying “You will get what you want if you will just help enough people get what they want.” In the game of basketball, it’s a fundamental aspect of the game to pass the ball to your teammates. “A true teammate doesn’t have to be the shooter to feel good about the team’s goal being scored.” It’s a great thing to help others, whether materially, physically, emotionally or spiritually, and quite honestly, it’s the true purpose of why we are all here. We are one team, one body all designed to accomplish specific and unique goals for a greater common good. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the illusion that you are helpless. At the very least you can always make an assist by dishing out hope and encouragement to help another’s ugly world feel beautiful again. Sometimes it’s just that simple. “Why host a pity party when a pretty party is so much more fun?”
  • Assist: Intentionally go out of your way, and help someone today – period. Make a phone call to a friend who is discouraged. Visit Children’s Hospital and volunteer to read a book. Help out at a homeless shelter. Take groceries or soup to a sick friend. Call up a neighbor who may be a stressed single-mother and volunteer to watch her kids for an evening or Saturday. Just do something special for someone because you can, and because it may not only change his or her life, but because the blessing will ultimately be yours in return. Helping someone else should be a regular part of your game plan not just a once-in-a-while thing.

    6. Rebound Relentlessly

  • So you shot for the goal and you missed. Did someone pack up the basket and roll it away so that you do not have a chance to shoot again, or is the goal still right there in front of you? You know the adage – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! If you have a burning desire to succeed at something, you have to be determined to try again when things don’t go as planned. Maybe you have to devise a new plan, maybe you have to have more focused aim, or maybe you have to run faster, work harder, perfect your technique, etc. There are likely many reasons to consider why you did not reach your goal but the only really pressing questions are: Do you still have the desire to succeed and is there still time to do so? If both of these answers are yes, rebound! You likely now know from a failed attempt what not to do which puts you one step closer to what to do! Awesome! Success most often comes to those who are as passionate and dedicated to rebound their misses as they are to take the big shot. So remember, “Aim and shoot for the goal like it’s your last shot, but if you miss, rebound like you’ve been rewarded just enough time for one more!”
  • Assist: Have a little fun today. Get yourself a little Nerf basketball hoop, or even a wastebasket and a balled up piece of paper will do. Play some hoops! Start with shots you know you can make (for a confidence boost) and after successfully making a few move further out to challenge yourself to hit the “big” shot. Do you give up and get frustrated after a couple of misses or does your adrenaline pump a bit and you become more determined and excited to make that next shot? It may seem a simple little game but it will likely tell you a lot about the kind of rebounder you are. The character measurement of your success won’t be determined by how many times you make the big shot, but by how many times you missed and yet were driven to shoot for the goal again.

    7. Passionately Play Your Position

  • It is my belief that the hardest position to play in any sport and in life is the position where you feel like you’re not playing at all. It’s the “on the bench” moments that frustrate us and cause us to lose focus and understanding of purpose. You right now may be on the bench in your relationship or social status, on the bench in your seemingly stagnant job, or if you’re playing a sport, literally on the bench and not getting significant playing time. It’s easy and exhilarating to be the star, playing in the roles or position we deem the most recognizable, praised or rewarding. However it is very difficult when we are not yet playing the position we most desire.
  • My question is, “But are you still on the team?” Because if you are, then there is undeniably some contribution you can be making in the role you are currently in. If not, and you’re sure of this, you might be playing for the wrong team. Realize being on the bench isn’t always a bad
    thing. The best learning and growth often comes from when we are still. It’s an opportunity to observe the game more critically and define how we might best perform once we are playing a more active role. That’s something to be excited about. The very hunger and anticipation of getting into the game and confidently performing with passion should give you hope. Also know if you are on the bench, you are actively learning patience, an invaluable asset to anything in life you seek to achieve. Be passionate at the very least for this learning and growth. Trust that your time will come to get off the bench. Remember “Even a mother hen knows all is not lost when her life lays a big, fat egg; so she sits on it, passionately waiting until it’s time to hatch a new life!” If you are able to passionately play an uncomfortable position, imagine how much more effectively and spectacularly you will be in playing the position you love!
    Assist: Think about your current role at work, at school, in your community group, etc. where you may be struggling with understanding or appreciating your role or position. On a piece of paper, in one column, write down five personal strengths. In a column beside it, list how each of those strengths has a positive effect on someone else. See my example below:

    Strengths Positive Effect
    1. I’m a confident speaker People relate well with me
    2. I’m very compassionate People feel loved and comfortable around me
    3. I’m very humorous Laughter makes others feel good
    4. I’m enthusiastic I help motivate others
    5. I’m honest People trust me (and trust is very hard to come by)
    How often do you really take the time to recognize your worth, your value to others? Write it down and you’d be amazed at how much you discover you have to contribute in any situation you are in or position you are asked to play. If you remember the positive things about yourself and passionately extend your gifts, you are less likely to get caught up in negative thinking or doubt regarding your overall value and worth. “It’s not always about the position you are in; it’s about demonstrating the passionate player within!” Realize you have character traits and skills that are purposeful and transferrable no matter what role you are currently playing. So be passionate and enthusiastic, and don’t forget to encourage others to do the same. The road to where you most desire to be may be a long one, but you’ll likely reach your destination faster and far more enjoyably if you travel with the passion and purpose of helping others along the way.

    8. Defend Your Goal

  • Finally, I reiterate, it’s a contact sport you are playing. No matter what you seek to do there will be opposition of some kind and sometimes even hurtful and prohibitive fouls you have to figure out how to play through. Earlier you wrote down three to five of those possible “fouls” that may hinder you from getting to your goal. It’s not enough to just know they are coming, whenever possible you have to devise a strategic plan to protect yourself. You defend your goal by thoroughly understanding and appreciating its value to you. If you just bought a beautiful
    new car but you also knew there was a recent string of car thefts in your neighborhood, would you leave your car doors unlocked? Would you leave the key in the ignition? Of course not. You would probably additionally go a step further to invest in some kind of car alarm or a monitoring device. You would protect that which you worked so hard to achieve and that which meant a lot to you.
    Whatever you are working hard to achieve or have already achieved, work with the diligence and wisdom to protect it. It is unfortunate, but everybody is not your teammate. And even more unfortunate is the fact that some of your very teammates may not be your friends. This does not mean to live your life in fear of everything and everybody. It does mean to be proactive to decide where you must focus your concentration for protection and to strategize a wise (not overly emotional) plan in case something arises that causes you to be reactive defensively. In life you feel the need to protect your family, your finances, your integrity, your reputation, your values, your status, etc. These are all things you more than likely had to work hard to achieve stability or gain in some way. Sometimes we fail because we allow our focus for what we can get be greater than our appreciation for what we’ve already got! So we neglect our family in pursuit of power or wealth. We neglect our finances in pursuit of a lavish good time or senseless shopping sprees. We covet what and who our friends have then foolishly pursue false aspirations and measure ourselves by their standards. So by all means set goals and pursue them passionately, but be wise enough to measure the cost of this pursuit as well as considering who the opponent may be. Sometimes without even recognizing it until it’s too late, we become our own greatest opponent.
    Assist: Earlier in Step One you wrote down the goals you wish to achieve and assessed the “fouls” you may encounter en route to your goal destination. Now, take the time to actually write down some existing values and institutions that are very important to you that you wish to defend at all cost. It may be your family time, your personal integrity, or perhaps a possession like that new car. What are some of the fouls that could possibly cause you to lose these important assets if you are not wise, strategic or careful? In writing these down, you are likely to discover valuable blessings you already have in your life and how passionate you are to defend them. You will also begin to structure your goal setting in line to complement these existing blessings rather than oppose them.
  • Last but not least, as you begin the process of developing a winner’s mentality to achieve your goals and overcome adversity, always remember our motto – that just like in basketball: “The closer you get to the goal, the harder the foul…so Play Through the Foul.” Victory is often closer than we realize

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