Michael Jordan and I have a similar story…his is just different in that he became one of the greatest champions of all-time!
It’s hard to grow up in the Michael Jordan era and not love basketball, especially when he’s from your hometown! When Jordan was a sophomore at Laney High School in Wilmington, he was cut from the team – “You can’t play”. Jordan used that motivation to get better and the rest is history.
Baseball was always my sport and basketball was the hobby. In 8th grade, that started to change; “maybe I’ll play basketball too.” I went to our coach and told him what I was thinking. His response was devastating:
“You can’t play basketball, Matt. You’re too slow. You might make the team, but you’ll never play in high school. Stick to baseball.”
“Ouch Charlie! That really hurt!” I didn’t know what to say or think. Now, I knew I wasn’t God’s gift to basketball and yes I was slow, but ‘can’t’ and ‘never’? My response was non-action. I was defeated. I feared realizing the rejection so I didn’t even tryout. My fear paralyzed me. Haven’t you felt that way?
Suspension and Belief
In the 10th grade, our high school baseball team was forced to stop off-season workouts. Had that suspension not happened, this story would not be told. Regardless, I had some free time on my hands and that ‘Can’t’ comment was still lingering in the back of my brain. I started to change my approach. I let my ‘Can’t’ become ‘Can I?” Asking yourself if you can, even though you’re uncertain is empowering because a positive question creates belief and hope. There is so much power in belief and hope, why squash it with ‘Can’t’.
Making the Team
My ‘Can I?’ encouraged me to act! I tried out and made the team. Not only did I make the team, I started. Not only did I start, I got moved up to Varsity after a few games. The same slow white kid that would never play in high school was playing varsity basketball 2 years later! I didn’t grow six inches or become faster. It was simply my belief in myself and I recognized my strengths. I was a big guy who played the post – good for rebounds, put backs and fouls! I harnessed those skills and ended up a co-captain my senior year and started every game. Here’s the awesome part. Remember the coach that told me “You’ll never play high school basketball”? He got a job coaching at my high school my senior year. On senior night, he lined the tunnel with the other coaches as we ran out on the floor! I went up to him before the game and reminded him of the story. Now I didn’t do this to rub it in his face, I actually said it as a “Thank you”. Thanks to Jordan, I replaced ‘Can’t’ with ‘Can I?”
Fast-forward 13 years. Life with 3 boys at, or under, 3 years old has the power to limit your vocabulary to 3 words: “No” “Don’t” and “Stop”! Every moment the boys are exploring, without limitation, and it seems impending harm sits, waiting for the moment to strike. You toe the line between, “that’s going to hurt” and “I’m not going to let them get hurt”. I have come to realize that their life is powered by the word “Can” and “Can I?”. They seek possibility in everything as they explore their world. The same beauty I saw in my experience is the beauty they find in that moment when “Can I?” becomes “Can”. They light up in their accomplishment and they broaden their sense of possibility. This is the process of learning. The process of growing.
Where to From Here?
Somewhere along the way, we stopped seeking possibility and settled for “Can’t”. Do you let this contraction rule your life? How many times have you said, “I can’t do that”? Better yet, has someone ever told you, “you can’t do that”? How have you responded? Some of you are saying, there are physically impossible feats like flying or breathing under water, that just can’t be done! But, I challenge you, people have been able to allow their opportunities expand by pushing the boundary of possible. Airline flight and SCUBA diving are great examples of pushing the boundary of possibility!
- Where are you telling yourself you can’t?
- Where are others telling you, you can’t?
- What skills and passions do you recognize in your life that you are not pursuing?
- Identify and attack those with specific action
Start to push the boundaries of possibility in your life. You will be amazed at what you CAN do!
Share your stories! How can I help?