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.
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!