Do it over and over again.
Do it until it hurts. And then get up and do it again.
The first thing I ever wanted to get good at was playing basketball. My Dad had put up a hoop on our garage and he would play out there with his friends. And I knew I wanted to be a good basketball player. So I went out there and played and played and played. I played before I could throw the ball high enough. There was no little hoop or little ball. So I just kept trying until I could get the ball that high. Then I got in the hoop. Then I could shoot from 5, 10, 15 feet away. And I got confident. I could make baskets from wherever. I wanted to play my dad.
And he whooped me. 11–0.
And so I played against him more. Every day after work. Every weekend. 11–0, 11–0, 11–1!
And we played for three years before I beat him. This wasn’t a “he let you win” or “he was tired.” This was a Sunday afternoon game he initiated. And I remember it being the greatest day.
I continued getting better until I could beat him consistently. And I went on to play on teams and in leagues. No, I didn’t end up being the greatest, I just ended up being good at basketball. I didn’t make the NBA, or college, or even high school.Â It was about being good for the sake of being good.
People who succeed in life do so because they find what they love and they do it to be good at it. And if they can’t get there today, they keep trying over and over. They will not be denied. I can’t count the number of times I missed a shot in basketball. But I picked it up and shot again. And it hurt. I broke bones for playing the game. I was so sore, I never wanted to move. But I played again.
I played again. I picked up the ball and took a shot hoping that this would be one that I made. And if I made it, I knew I would have to make it again to be satisfied.
People hate sports analogies because of their simplicity (and their ease). From the age of four to fourteen, all I ever really cared about was playing basketball and being good.
Now life is more difficult and complicated you might argue. Maybe. We make it more difficult and complicated though. How do I know this? My dad’s motivation during my basketball loving days was making sure he was there for a game of one on one. During that time, he went through a job change, divorce and remarriage. Life was more complicated but he made it simple: he wanted to be a good dad, so he did it. And he missed shots, lost games and not just on the basketball court to me. He woke up, like I did, and whatever reality faced us that morning, we were going to continue trying.
I post this because I heard someone give an excuse as to why they couldn’t try to do what they wanted to be good at. Talking is easy. Making excuses is easier. Doing is difficult. Failing is more difficult. And getting up and trying after failure is the most difficult.
No more excuses. No more talking. If you want to do something, do it.