For 25 years I chased the dream of cutting down the nets and hoisting the championship trophy above my head. I grew up during a time when Wide World of Sports was must see tv on each weekend. Watching the opening credits in which they play the “thrill of victory” and “the agony of defeat” roll across my television screen I fantasized about becoming the character who would be featured in the “thrill of victory shot.” Afterall, “the agony of defeat shot” was a fellow Croation who unfortunately fell off the ski jump platform. I thought a shot of me could help balance the scales.
The lessons I learned while on this journey have molded me and maybe able to help you as well. As I tell kids all the time, “it’s okay to have your head in the clouds as long as your feet are firmly planted on the ground and headed in the right direction. I would like to share some of these lessons with you.
Each day you send your child to school or you head to work with a backpack full of all the essentials needed to learn, improve and get the job done. I am certain it contains books, papers, pens, calculators, etc… What I wonder about is whether your backpack contains the three most important pieces to success. The three pieces I am talking about are your “Wishbone,” “Backbone” and “Funnybone.” It is important to have all three. This will be the first of a three part series……
First let’s talk about the Wishbone. Without a properly developed wishbone you will never be able to reach your potential. You must have a dream. Those who don’t will perish. I know that sounds intense, but try living a purposeful life without a sense of hope and the ability to dream.
Everyday from the time I was an 8th grader I have dreamt about becoming a head basketball coach at the Division I level. I mean I really visualized it happening. I used to get so excited that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. That’s how you have to approach your dream before you turn it into a goal. You have to taste it, touch it and feel it in your soul.
That’s why each year I would begin our first practice by having the players sit on the floor with their eyes closed. I wanted them to visualize themselves playing a key role in winning championship. Not an easy thing to do when you are at schools that have never done that. We would talk about creating our own tradition. Then I would put on an audio tape that my play by play guy had created. We started this at St. Francis with Todd Ant doing it and then continued it with Danny Clinkscale doing the same when I was at UMKC. Todd was also kind enough to do the tapes when I was at North Florida and Millersville.
The tape took the players through the final minutes of the championship game. The game winner took different forms depending on the year. One year it might be a defensive stop and another it would be a last second shot. As the final horn went off you could hear the crowd scream and the excitement filled the gym. As the band played you could cut the emotion with a knife. Then we would march down to one end of the floor and cut down the nets to signify the victory.
When you take this type of visualization into the rest of your life I can tell you magic will happen. The truth is you become what you think about the majority of the time. Or saying it another way, is that you don’t always get what you want, but you get what you expect. Oh, and by the way we did the same thing at the end of the year, but we added a video of each player performing to his potential in the areas we needed most. This sent everybody into the tourney with a huge jolt of confidence.