“Words can either Inspire or Douse the fire of the Receiver”
What an amazing feeling I just experienced, as I wiped the sweat from my brow and headed for the exit door. I just wrapped up one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in a while as the guest speaker at a local school in the City of Boston. I was there to speak to the 5th grade class as part of a program called “If they made it, so can I” www.theymadeitsocani.org this program is the divinely inspired creation of a dynamic woman named Patricia Spence and should be replicated throughout the country. The premise of the program is for professional adults to come and share their life story of how they got to where they are today beginning with their own 5th grade experience. After a rousing introduction, Pat’s a great hype person and would be great on a hip hop tour, I walked through the classroom door to the amazement of the students who marveled at my height. I began to address the class and share my story of growing up in Mission Hill one of Boston’s most notorious housing projects, avoiding the pitfalls that rob so many of their potential and share how the 5th grade was the last time I was in the advance class, because growing up know one explained to me that it was possible to be both smart and cool I also shared my TPC principle’s of Talent, Purpose, Calling.
There was a young man in the class named Isaiah (not his real name) who inspired to be a pro ball player as did a few others, no surprise as we unfortunately know our young people overwhelmingly think that success is tied to a sports or entertainment career, This brazen young man sat straight up in his chair and stated to me that he thought he could beat me in a game of one on one, immediately his class mates erupted in laughter they riddled him with jokes and comments about how I would Kill him, even the administrator who was present at the time mentioned that I was at least 4 feet taller than he, immediately Isaiah’s countenance change and his body language reflected the loss of confidence. I sprang into action and came to his defense and told him that it’s great he thought he could beat me in a game of basketball, he set his bar of success high, he thought of me as the ultimate challenge. I then followed up with these words “Isaiah it doesn’t matter what others think about your goals and dreams, what matters most is what you believe and if you think you can beat me, don’t let others discourage you”. Instantly I could see the rush of confidence return. How many of us can relate to what Isaiah experienced? Or perhaps your words discouraged someone else from pursuing their dream. At the conclusion of my talk, the principal asked if I wouldn’t mind playing basketball with a few of the students in the gym, and though I was clearly not dressed to play, I said of course, because Isaiah would be one of the students who participated, and you know what despite the odds being stacked against me, it was 3 on 1. I had a great time.
As for Isaiah that young man got game, as he displayed a variety of ball handling skills straight from the And 1 mix tour, along with a consistent jump shot from 15 feet, imagine if he came to the gym having the last words spoken to him be the jokes and comments made by his fellow classmates at the thought of him beating me and I didn’t pick him back up. I think the game would have turned out differently. As a coach I often remind the athletes in my program that in order for us to achieve our goals, we have to have a strong belief in what we think about ourselves, despite what the critics say, this season we were chosen to finish 7th in the pre-season polls, however to date we are off to a 2-0 start, here’s hoping we keep believing in the powerful words within that say we can become Champions.