One of the reasons I’m so passionate about the work I do and the lessons I teach during my keynotes is because they’re lessons I’ve had to learn myself (often the hard way!).

Almost EVERYTHING I share on stage and on page today are things I did the polar opposite of when I was younger.

The most glaring example is mindset.

In my teens and early 20’s I was THE KING of blaming, complaining, and making excuses.

Anytime things didn’t go my way – it was someone else’s fault. I severely lacked personal accountability.

As a freshman basketball player at Elon… I got a decent amount of playing time (and even started a handful of games).

And with typical youthful arrogance, I figured that would continue for the rest my college career. I mean, if I played a lot as a freshman, why wouldn’t I continue to play a lot the next three years?

That misguided assumption led to complacency the off season after my freshman year. I mailed it in. I did the bare minimum. I stopped working on my game during the Unseen Hours.

While I coasted, my teammates got better. While I thought I had ‘arrived’, our coach recruited more talented players.

The result?

I hardly played at all my sophomore season.

Which was absolutely justified to EVERYONE but me.

I was so unaware and hardheaded.

Instead of my demotion serving as a much needed wakeup call – to get back to work and try to EARN more playing time – I made excuses, blamed my coach, and complained.

Instead of having the courage to rise to the challenge, I took the cowardice approach and did even less.

“If I’m not gonna play, why should I even bother coming in?”

I had it completely backwards.

I was selfish, apathetic, and entitled.

It was all about ME (and not the team).

To no surprise, this trend (of hardly ever playing) continued during my junior year.

Around mid-season, during a home game when we were up 25, my coach put me in with less than a minute to go.

I thought these as ‘scrub minutes.’

I felt humiliated.

My immature ego felt embarrassed.

The next morning I went into his office and said, “If you’re not gonna play me when the game matters, don’t bother playing me at all.”

And he didn’t.

I never played another minute of college basketball.

And rightfully so. After behaving like that, I didn’t deserve to play.

Fast forward 25 years… and it’s crazy for me to even write about this. It feels like a lifetime ago… and honestly feels like that wasn’t even me… like it was a completely different person.

Thankfully, I’ve matured a lot since then…

For starters, I can ‘see’ how misguided I was and how my attitude/perspective NOW is the exact opposite of what it was THEN.

I now ‘use’ that experience to heighten my empathy and compassion when I meet someone that has the same attitude I used to have (and people that blame, complain, and make excuses).

I’ve also forgiven my younger self for having such a selfish, entitled attitude! It’s clear to me now that my behavior then was a result of some very deep rooted insecurities and low level emotional intelligence and coping skills.

But I’m proud to say I am a better man today for having been such a knucklehead then!

I’m equally proud to say that I have since repaired my relationship with my coach. He’s one of my biggest supporters now. I’m so grateful for his grace and forgiveness!