So there we were, down by 4 with 2 minutes left in game #6 of the season. I called a timeout and brought my 9-10 year old boys basketball team over to the sideline for a last minute pep talk before the final 2 minutes of a very close and very competitive game. I wanted to make sure they understood the game plan and that everyone was giving me 100%. I did my best to encourage them and help them understand that we were still in this game!
Now here’s a little bit of backstory - leading up to this game we were undefeated – 5-0!! It was an exciting time for the team and for me as their coach. There’s no greater joy than seeing your players work hard, play as a team, and win basketball games. But coming into week 6, I knew it would be a challenge. We were playing the same team we had barely defeated just a few weeks prior. I knew that this time around, they were going to play hard, and that’s exactly what they did.
They took it to us from the opening whistle to the very end. Thankfully, my guys were able to cut it close so we could hopefully have a chance to win it in the 4th quarter. Because we were losing, and because my team hadn’t dealt with a loss all season, they were clearly upset. Tempers were flaring, tears were falling, and panic was setting in.
They kept screaming at the refs, screaming at each other, and sometimes they would even scream at me. The pressure was high and it felt like the game was slipping away from us. I knew I had to do my best to keep them calm and get them to believe that if they wanted it bad enough, they could still win this game.
They went back on the court and the ref blew his whistle. With our hearts pumping and everyone in the gym yelling at the top of our lungs, the 4th quarter was almost over. We had one last shot but ended up turning the ball over and that was it - We suffered our first loss of the season, 36-32.
Now with the way my boys reacted after losing this game, you would’ve thought they had never lost before. Some were crying, some were yelling, and some even stormed out of the gym. Now as their Head Coach, I was hurt. I was Hurt because I don’t like seeing them upset. It’s usually me in the car ride home after a tough game or tough practice thinking of ways I could’ve coached better or done this differently or said that a different way. Because I’m their coach and the leader, I hold myself to a high standard which can cause me to sometimes be really hard on myself. I just wish I’d done something different so we could’ve won the game and they could go home feeling like Winners.
But then I reminded myself how important losing and failure was for me growing up, which gives me hope that they will grow from this defeat and become better because of it, just like I did.
But then I think about the world that we live in today. A world much different than the one I grew up in as a kid. A world where almost every young boy or teenager has a cell phone and whatever they want is right in front of them, at the push of a button. When I was their age growing up, I was climbing trees & making forts. These kids today do things like Snapchat, Instagram, and create YouTube videos. This advancement in Technology has given these young boys Instant Gratification. This makes their lives so easy and because of this, they have no idea what it means to fail or what it means to have to work hard for something, or what to do in the face of adversity. Because adversity sucks and because it’s uncomfortable, they give up. Or like my boys did after losing - they break down, get angry, and put the blame on other people, instead of taking responsibility for themselves and accepting defeat as a necessary part of being human.
When I first started thinking about mentoring, I knew I wanted to inspire kids and encourage them to always believe in themselves. This was something that was really on my heart because I was a kid just like they are and I struggled with a lot of these same issues, especially in moments of defeat. But as I’ve said before, I had some amazing Mentors who helped me overcome a lot of the hardships I was facing. Because I had that and because I know how important it was for me growing up, I want to try to be that for them as well.
>> iPhone in every kids hands <<
>>The Challenges young kids already face growing up <<
(self-esteem, peer-pressure, drugs & alcohol)
Which is exactly why so many kids out there need us, more than ever, to teach them - about life, school, relationships, confidence, and like my boys basketball team, they need us to teach them how important losing can be for their growth.
Losing develops your character. It lets you know that things aren’t always going to come easy. Sometimes you have to feel defeat and all the pain that comes with it, in order to really understand what it takes to be a winner. When you lose, you are given the opportunity to look at what you did wrong, learn from those mistakes, and then come back better than you were before. But the 1 thing I love most about losing --- It makes WINNING that much sweeter!
Men ,I know in my own life, wasting my time on things that don’t matter isn’t the way I want to live. Like me, I’m sure most of you reading this want your life to have meaning. Well bro, there is nothing more meaningful than assisting another person and helping them to succeed. Helping young men to see their potential is one of the most incredible things you could do for them.
And you know what? Maybe as an Adult you’re the one who needs to better understand the value that comes from losing. I know that losing in my own life is always hard and at times I don’t even want to think about it so I do my best to avoid it, which is never good. But as I look back at all the times in my life where I’ve lost or failed at something, I realize now that the only reason I was able to learn from those moments was because I had someone who taught me the importance of getting back up after every time I fall.
Be a #Gentleman. Be a #Mentor. Be the #Difference.