Mankind has told stories for thousands of years. Stories inform, inspire, and challenge us. They share lessons of failure and triumph, disfavor and redemption.
Malcolm Gladwell has written five bestsellers using the art of story telling. In Outliers, he spotlighted '10,000 hours' to success, examining disciplines from music to medicine, chess, and sports. Isiah Thomas honed his craft on sweltering Chicago playgrounds, becoming a star at Indiana and consecutive NBA championships. He overcame controversy regarding criticism about Larry Bird, calling attention to his work ethic. Thomas rightly remarked, "Larry definitely had to work hard to get where he is at, but so many times it's been said about black athletes that their talent is 'God-given' or that it's 'natural ability.' I had to work just as hard to get where I am. It's not God-given or instinctive."
In Toughness, Jay Bilas recounted an incident as a teen where his father asked him to change out the contact paper in his sister's vanity. It was hard work, and Bilas acknowledged doing a cursory job. His father, who left for work early and returned home late, inspected the shoddy work, fixed it, and said nothing. Bilas felt humiliated. He described how his father was one of the toughest people he knew, and learned a valuable lesson. Do the job right.
We control our thoughts, our beliefs, and our choices. Tim Grover wrote about coolers, closers, and cleaners in Relentless. One of his clients, Kobe Bryant, took 100,000 shots over the summer. Bryant closes the introduction, "This book is the blueprint for discovering what you're capable of achieving, getting results you never imagined, and reaching the highest level of success." Grover writes of cleaners, "You know exactly who you are...you have a dark side that refuses to be taught to be good...you're not intimidated by pressure, you thrive on it." Embrace the work.
Spencer Haywood showed up for a workout at the University of Detroit seeking a basketball scholarship. The coach told him that if he made fifteen consecutive free throws, he'd get the scholarship. The rest is history (below). Make your free throws.
In his book, Runnin' Rebel, Jerry Tarkanian discusses recruiting Stacey Augmon. He reports that there were concerns that Augmon would be academically ineligible, but that Tarkanian's strong network in Pasadena, including his brother, would land the 6'7" forward at UNLV. Augmon became part of two NCAA Final Four teams, including the 1990 NCAA champions. And he graduated from UNLV with a degree in Social Work. Taking a chance on a young person can pay big dividends.
Benjamin Franklin used a method to weigh serious decisions. He folded a sheet of paper in half, labeling one side Pro and the other Con. listed reasons to each column, canceling out arguments of equal strength, or perhaps one argument against two of similar gravity. He preached practicality in all matters, particularly in redressing wrongs, such as raising his nephew, in payback for abandoning his apprenticeship with his brother James.
Coach Knight shares his thoughts on help and some sharp wit.