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7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Playing Basketball

7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Playing Basketball

I’ve played basketball for over a decade, but it was only recently that I realised what a brilliant metaphor it is for life. I’ve lost loads of games in my career. Probably more than I’ve won if I’m really honest. I’ve also probably missed more shots than I’ve made.

At the beginning of my career, I didn’t have a lot of success. In training and whilst practicing, I was really good. I was assertive. I made shots. I led my team. I just played how I knew I could. But I could never put it together in a competitive environment, in actual game. As you can probably imagine, this drove me crazy. In the end, though, things did change. They got better. Much better actually. If you’re intrigued (come on, of course you are) then read on. If you like metaphor (and basketball), you’ll love this:

1. I play better when I’m relaxed.

When I’m frustrated, I play terrible. I force things. I get upset. I take bad shots. I ignore my teammates. I’m easily agitated. And, it’s hard to snap out of.

When I’m relaxed, I play great. I play free. I don’t force anything. I read the game. I let it come to me. I take my time. I’m patient. I make better decisions. It’s easier to get “in the zone.”

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I’m also able to better focus on the most important thing: winning. How many points I scored, how many rebounds I grabbed…these things cease to really matter. All I care about is winning. And, seeing as that’s what I care about, my play follows in accordance.

2. Assertiveness leads only to great things.

If I drive to the hoop assertively, I’ll likely score or get fouled, or both. If I go after a rebound assertively, I’ll probably get it. If I play assertive defense, my counterpart will get flustered and make mistakes. The more assertive you are, the quicker you get what you want.

There’s a delicate balance between assertiveness and aggressiveness though. When you’re assertive, you know what you want and you go after it with focus. But, you’re also relaxed enough to be smart about it. When you’re aggressive, your thoughts become clouded, or you just don’t think. You act heavy-handed and make mistakes as a result. You might momentarily get what you want, but it doesn’t last, because how you got it is unsustainable. Assertiveness is the choice you want to make.

3. I worked really hard for a long time to get better.

This is simple. I could only hazard a guess at the amount of shots I’ve taken in my back garden, at the park, and at practice over the years. It’s well into six figures, I’d say. And that’s not even practicing every single day. I’m not a professional basketball player. So how many more shots would I have needed to have taken for that to have been realistic? Double? Triple?

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You work hard and you work smart because you know it’ll be worth it. I didn’t absolutely love every minute of basketball practice, but I did it because when I went out on the court to play I wanted to know that I’d be good. That I could make shots. That I was worth putting on the court.

I knew I could play because I’d spent years and years getting better; the evidence was right in front of me. Or, even better, the evidence was me.

4. Self-esteem = performance

I used to be great in training. I’d play relaxed, free, smart. I shot well. I made good plays. I read the game easily. Overall, I played about as well as I could most of the time. I was always one of the best players. However, the thing that frustrated the hell out of me was that I couldn’t ever seem to replicate this in games. I’d always kind of freeze up. Everything took a lot of effort, and I didn’t always reap much reward. It was so annoying, and I remember being upset after a lot of games because I just hadn’t played how I knew I could.

The reality was that I didn’t think I was good enough. Didn’t think I could do it. It was like I didn’t think I was allowed to play at my best (If this resonates with you, check out The 3 Things That Will Give You Stronger-Than-Iron Man Self-Esteem).

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Once I let go of these extremely limiting beliefs, it was almost like magic. I started playing how I did in training. Relaxed, assertive, making shots… it felt fantastic. This was what I’d been waiting for all this time. I’ve since won championships and individual awards, and it’s all down to a shift in how I was thinking, not my physical skills. I just developed a deep belief that I was good enough and I was allowed to just go out and play and actually have fun with it. It works infinitely better and is a hell of a lot more fun than the alternative. Shocking, I know…

5. It’s a team game

You can’t win a basketball game on your own; you just can’t. You need your teammates. I’ve been on teams where I’ve been the best player and I’ve tried to win the game on my own. It’s not fun. I got frustrated that I was having to do everything, or, rather, thinking that I had to do everything. I ended up playing selfishly and resenting my teammates. The best teams I’ve played on have had lots of good players and we’ve played well together. Everyone plays to their strengths and we help each other do that. Because of that, we won more games and had more fun. I know which option I prefer.

6. Score

If you want to win a game of basketball, you need to be able to put the ball through the hoop. If this isn’t a metaphor for setting and achieving goals, I don’t know what is. If you want to score, you have to shoot. To become a great shooter, you have to practice. The reason you practice? Because you want to become great. Because it’s important to you. Because that’s who you are.

The top teams in the NBA shoot around 50%, but usually lower, which is another great metaphor for achieving goals. Sometimes you miss. Sometimes you fail. You won’t succeed every single time, but you absolutely will succeed. If you’ve worked your ass off to keep getting better, you’ll take better shots and score more points and be a more effective player. You will succeed.

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I also find that the tougher the shot, the more satisfaction I get from making it. That’s something I didn’t truly realise until writing this article, and is a good lesson to remember!

7. Letting go

Each team has so many possessions in any basketball game. You’re going to score a lot of baskets, and you’re going to miss a lot too. You might as well accept it. In the NBA, the highest level of basketball in the world, most players shoot around 50%, if not slightly lower. Which, for the math geniuses amongst you, means they miss about 50% too. These are the best players in the world, and they “only” make half their shots. If they took each miss with them to the next possession and thought about it, worried about it, obsessed over it happening again…what do you think would happen? Might they be frustrated? Might they lose confidence? Think they suck? Probably. Does that sound helpful?

It’s important to let go. You gave the ball away? Let it go. You missed a crucial shot? Let it go. Why would you hold onto it? There’s nothing to gain. Learn from it and move forward.

How do you let go? You have to trust yourself. If you trust that letting go is the right decision, then you can live with whatever the result is of that decision.

Featured photo credit: Air/Thomas Hawk via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 26, 2018

10 Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

10 Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

If you want to change your life, you are going to have to do things differently. Sometimes you can look to inspirational books to create a positive change in your life. If you desire change, you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone. As Anthony Robbins points out in the quote below, you are going have to experience discomfort and pain in order to transform your life. Any change, whether it be an organisation or personal, can be a painful process. However, the rewards of going through the change process are priceless.

“All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting an empowering new belief” – Anthony Robbins

There are two specific events that threw my life into a tailspin, where for a while there it felt like I was losing control. These two events were, the sudden and tragic loss of my parents, and being made redundant three times in eighteen months.

With the third redundancy, I was at my lowest point in my life. I felt utterly useless. My self-confidence was at zero, and I could see no future for me.

My life was turned upside down. I knew that I had to turn it around. I just didn’t know how.

Then one wet Sunday afternoon, I picked up a book from my bookshelf called ,“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. I had this book for at least a year and had been meaning to read it, but hadn’t gone anywhere near a book for months.

When I read this book, I decided that I needed to get my life back. I needed to learn how to heal and rebuild my confidence, as well as my self belief.

So I started to read books. I read lots of books about inspirational stories on life, love, and happiness. Personal development and motivational books were full of information, tools, and strategies about how I could take control back and change my life. I would like to share with you the inspirational messages I got from reading these ten books that changed my life.

Read these 10 books because I believe they will inspire you, motivate you, and show you how to take action and go change your life!

    Awaken The Giant Within

    by Anthony Robbins
    The inspirational message from this book is how you have the power right now to control how you think, how you feel, and what you do. Anything you want or desire in your life, you already have the power to achieve it.

    “You and I have that same power at our disposal every moment of the day. At the moment, the questions that we ask ourselves can shape our perception of who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we’re willing to do to achieve our dreams” – Anthony Robbins

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      Screw It Lets Do It: Lessons in Life

      by Richard Branson
      Reading other people’s stories about their journeys in life can give you better perspective of what the journey of change can be about. Richard Branson is into reinvention and as a result, he embraces change.

      This book will fuel your enthusiasm to give things a go. It will show you how to sort out the self-limiting beliefs that stop you from stepping up and taking on the challenge of change.

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      “As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live” – Richard Branson

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        The Art of Happiness

        by Dalai Lama

        There is not a person I know who is not in the pursuit of happiness.

        “The Art of Happiness” is a book that will encourage you to practice the discipline of self-reflection.The more you reflect on your life, the deeper you look into your inner self (your soul). This is where you discover what happiness truly means to you.

        Knowing what happiness means to you, gives you purpose. With purpose, you’ll have clarity, focus, and a vision. These are the foundations that will empower you to embark on the journey to change your life.

        “Both these people illustrate the essential point that happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.” – Dalai Lama

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          The Four Agreements

          by Don Miguel Ruiz

          “The Four Agreements” are Don Miguel’s code for life.

          “The Four Agreements” provide an inspirational code for life, for the way you handle your relationships, how you behave, and how you communicate with others. If you want to change your life, read “The Four Agreements”. This book will show you how to attain a happy fulfilled life.

          “If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self pity, suffering and tears.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

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            The Magic of Thinking Big

            by David J Schwartz

            According to Dr Schwartz, to create change in your life and to attain all that you desire, you need to change your thinking and your attitude.

            The importance of preparing your mind and your thinking for the journey of personal change is the key message of this book.

            “Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.” – David J. Schwartz.

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              Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How To Create A New You

              by Deepak Chopra

              Deepak Chopra believes that personal transformation not only involves the mind, but also your body and soul. According to Chopra, you cannot transform your mind without transforming your body and soul.

              Reading this book will encourage you to think about the potential energy force and power you hold within you. This energy grows when you are connected and aligned to your mind, body, and soul.

              “The key to transformation is that you create the change you want to see in yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

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                The Greatest Salesman In The World

                by Og Mandino

                This little classic has been around since 1968. Have you ever wondered what truly successful people have in common?

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                This book doesn’t really tell you how to be a great salesperson. It will; however, give you some fantastic tips on how to be an entrepreneur, how to self-motivate, and how to think like a successful person.

                The underlying message is the power of positive thinking – that you become what you think, say, and do. This book has great tactics for those of us in the process of change.

                “My dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible. All are of no value unless they are followed by action.” – Og Mandino

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                  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

                  by Richard Carlson

                  This book helps you to manage the small stuff in your life that is usually creating the most pain in your life. This very supportive book is full of great practical suggestions on how you can live a more joyful and peaceful life.

                  “True happiness comes not when we get rid of all of our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice, and to learn.” – Richard Carlson

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                    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

                    by Chip & Dan Heath

                    Have you ever tried to lose weight or get fit and never reached your goal? You know that you have to make changes in your life, but you don’t know how?

                    If you are nodding in agreement, then you need to read “Switch“. If I had to recommend one book that shows you how to create and maintain lasting change in your life – then it would be “Switch“.

                    In this book, Chip and Dan share the Secret as to how you can create and sustain change in your life.

                    Hint: It has something to do with knowing how to “Direct The Rider”, “Motivate The Elephant”, and “Shape the Path.”

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                    This book, without a doubt, will show you how to change your life.

                    “When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.” – Chip & Dan Heath

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                      The Gifts of Imperfection

                      by Brene Brown

                      Do you ever feel that you are just not worthy enough, intelligent enough, or courageous enough to live a fulfilled happy life?

                      Do you have secret dreams that you hold deep inside of you that you don’t share in case someone thinks they are silly? Or are you too scared to follow your dreams because you fear that you may fail?

                      Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, will show you how to find your courage, as well as rediscover your self-belief and self-worth.

                      This is the book that will get you prepared to embark on your journey of change. “The Gifts of Imperfection” is about you learning how to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.

                      “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown

                      These 10 books were key to helping me change my life. I rediscovered hope for my future. I found my courage, strength, and my self-belief. I hope that by reading these books, you will find the same inspiration and motivation to take up the challenge and change your life.

                      “If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” – Sherman Alexie

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