Three years ago, when my twin sons Luke & Jack were 10 years old, I took them to an outdoor basketball court and rebounded for them during a few basic shooting drills.

And my goodness, their effort and attitude was abysmal. They kept making excuse after excuse for why they were missing so many shots (‘these rims suck!’… ‘it’s too hot out here!’).

So I ended the workout and took them home.

I didn’t get upset. 

I didn’t shame them. 

I didn’t punish them. 

After a rather quiet car ride home, I asked them a simple question, “What are the only two things in this world you have 100% control over, 100% of the time?”

“Our effort and attitude” they mumbled in unison while rolling their eyes (they’ve attended their fair share of my speaking engagements!).

I then asked them, “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the effort you just gave and the attitude you just had?”

Luke reflected for 10 seconds and said, 

“Probably a 4.”

Jack quickly agreed, “Same for me.”

I asked them what grade they would get in school if they got a 4/10 on a test.

“Not good” they both replied.

I nodded.

Then, sounding like a stereotypical motivational speaker, I said, “Do you really want to live a ‘not good’ life?” (As soon as I said it I laughed internally for sounding so corny!)

“No, of course not” they said.

I continued my impromptu mini-personal-development-workshop, “The only way you can live a fulfilled life… the only way you can reach your goals and dreams… and the only way you can have high self-worth and self-confidence… is by giving your best effort and having a great attitude as consistently as possible. Anything less than that will lead to a ‘not good’ life. Do you guys understand?”

“Yes daddy.”

I then finished off with, “I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. I’m saying this because I love you and I believe in you. You missed a golden opportunity today to get better at something you’ve told me you care about (basketball). Thankfully, there will be plenty of future opportunities to take advantage of. So I hope you learned a powerful lesson and can now move to The Next Play.”

Then I asked them if they had any questions…

Without missing a beat… Luke said, “Can we play on our iPads now?”