By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
I was at my 12 year old, Ethan’s, basketball game a few weeks back, and the most amazing thing happened! Altoona was down by 2 with around 40 seconds left in the game. Ethan was fouled, which put his team in to bonus. For you non-basketballers, as I was until my sons became players, this means Ethan went to the free throw line where he got one shot attempt for sure and a second one if he made the first.
Free throws are a major weak spot in 7th grade basketball. As is common in basketball, games are often won or lost based on the outcomes of free throws. After losing a game earlier in the season by 6 points correlating with 6 missed free throws, Ethan started practicing his free throws nearly daily. As Ethan went to the line with the potential to tie the game, it was time to see if this work paid off.
Second ball up...swish.
Game is tied!
Fast forward to 4 seconds left in the game with the score still tied, Altoona inbounds the ball to Ethan. He dribbles in, goes up for a lay up, and IN! The game winning score!
It was very exciting but I wasn’t proud of Ethan for making his free throws or the game winning shot, and I made sure to tell him that. Before his face fell too far, and before you all come and stone me for being such a meany, here is what I said to Ethan, “Ethan, I’m not proud of you for making your free throws or the winning shot. I’m excited for you, yes, but I’m not proud of you. Know what I am proud of you for?”.
“What?”, Ethan asked, trying not to look disappointed.
“Ethan, I’m proud of you for putting in the extra work when no one was looking so you were prepared to make those shots when your team needed you to, “ I said. He looked up, a little surprised. “You see, Ethan, no one made you do the extra practice. But, I guarantee it was that extra you did when no one was watching that gave you the skill and confidence to pull off those game-tying free throws and the game-winning lay up. That is what makes me proud of you.” While I wanted Ethan to revel in a few minutes of being the hero, I didn’t want him to miss the big lesson, that it was his extra commitment to extra practice to improve his skills that allowed him to pull this off. Wins fade, there’s always another game to play, so to speak, but this life lesson will stick with him long after.
Why am I sharing this, DreamChaser? This is an important life lesson for all of us, too, not just Ethan! The victories feel good, right? We all want that end result, the big win. But, it takes a lot of effort and practice and, gasp, failing and do overs behind the scenes to have the moment in the limelight. It’s these small, everyday victories of putting in the time when no one is looking that is the difference maker, that is setting you up for success, that is getting you prepared for and closer to your victory. Last second, winning plays, or any victory in life, doesn’t just happen without the effort behind the scenes that no one witnesses. You just have to stick with it!
Choose an attitude that you won’t give up, no matter what. Embrace the mindset that failing is fine but quitting is not. Love the journey because, let’s face it, any goal or dream worth having has a longer journey than reward. Find fun and gratitude in the practice. And, above all, believe you will get to the finish line. Because, guess what, you will if you just keep at it and keep going.
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.