I was pleased to be invited by Alderson Broaddus University to deliver two talks this month. The first was for the Dr. Robert V. Digman Distinguished Lecture Series. The second was a pre-season motivational talk on ‘commitment’ for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. This post was inspired by my time with the wonderful people of ABU — I’ve dubbed it Always Better University — and is dedicated to the men’s and women’s basketball teams. May your seasons be everything you hope for and, more important, everything you work for.
What are you really committed to? Are you committed to doing well in basketball? Are you committed to doing well in school? Are you committed to having good relationships with friends and family? It’s tough to be committed to all those things. But here’s a commitment you can make:
“I commit myself to help everybody around me. I commit to help people become better by me doing it. I commit to helping the other players by working hard. I’m doing that. It’s me. It’s about I. Doing it. And not me complaining and finding fault and blaming. It’s ‘I’ getting better, helping ‘YOU’ get better so that ‘WE‘ get better.”
I U WE. When you think about commitment, think I U WE:
I can’t do it by myself, no matter how good I am.
YOU can’t do it by yourself, no matter how good you are. But together,
WE can do anything! We can make ourselves better, our team better, our school better … we can probably even change the world.
Commitment needs to be worked on. Because I’ll tell you it’s very easy to say …
“I want to lose weight.”
“I want to become a better player.”
“I want to become a better student.”
“I want to go to class.”
Saying you want to do something has absolutely nothing to do with doing it. It’s not about saying you’re going to do it. It’s about doing it. But you have to be self-aware. Because you can’t make a true commitment if you haven’t truly convinced yourself …. down to your core.
If your coach says, “Look, you’ve got to go to class. And if you don’t go to class, you’re running.” You may do that; you may go to class. But that’s not a commitment. That’s an action taken out of fear and an action taken because someone else told you to do it.
Instead, you’ve got to take what your coach said and say to yourself, “Hey. For the benefit of the team, for the benefit of my family, for the benefit of all the people around me, I am going to go to class and I’m going to sit in that front row because I am committed to learning, to helping myself and to helping others.”
Now we’re talking!
And I think that’s what commitment’s about.
Do you have true commitment?
There’s a young man I’m very close to; I’ll call him Tommy, but that’s not his real name. After his first season as a high school player, I thought Tommy was going to be a good player and he said he wanted to get better.
I went and worked with him and spent time with him and told him, “Here are the drills that you’re going to need to do and I’ll get back to you and we can talk about it in a week.” A week came and went. I talked to him. He hadn’t done the drills, but he said, “Yeah, I want to get better.”
Another week went by. I asked Tommy, “Have you worked ….?” and he said, “I did ’em that one day … but I’m startin’ again next week.” And that conversation went on for three months in the summer and he never did do them.
A year later Tommy said, “You know, I think I might want to teach and coach.” I said, “Well great. I’ll give you a book.” I gave him John Wooden’s book They Call Me Coach. It’s the best book I can think of for a beginning coach because it talks about philosophy and learning and how to learn how to teach. Two weeks later I asked him what he thought about the book and he replied – yes, you’ve guessed it! – he replied, “No, I haven’t read it yet but I’m gonna start next week.”
My point is pretty simple: You can be average to good and become great. Tommy was average to good – he was a pretty good high school player – he started, he played, he was captain, he even led his team in scoring as a senior. But he never became great. Why?
Because he never paid the price for greatness. He was never committed. Commitment. That’s your price.
You want a ticket to greatness? Buy a ticket that says Commitment on it and then punch it every day.
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