I like to think of myself as a person who loves to rise to challenges. Over the years, I’ve taken pride in my tenacity – my ability to push my limits and really dive into things that I love and find important.
I have been a lazy asshole.
I say this to myself with the utmost love and affection. I do work hard, and I think I’m really great at rising to challenges. But yesterday I was shown what real determination is, and how when it’s coupled with a dash of love and fun, it results in conquering seemingly unfathomable goals.
Case in point: I pick up my daughter after her weekly Karate class. This summer has been about sharing sporting experiences with her. And so, we went around the neighborhood and found a schoolyard with basketball rims in the school playground. They were lower, of course (it was primary school), maybe measuring around 7.5 feet. So we played around a bit and I tried teaching her some passing, some dribbling and some shooting. She had a difficult time with the last bit. Being of tiny proportions, she didn’t quite have the mechanics or the arm power to adequately shoot a basketball into the lowered hoop. So, she granny-shot the ball underhanded instead! Swish! She shot one, then two. Then missed a few. But she was having such a good time. “Count the baskets for me Baba!” she cried. Six, seven, eight. The baskets accumulated steadily as she kept shooting. After about 15 minutes, she finally reached 21 and we celebrated with high-fives and hugs.
“Your turn!” she insisted. “I think you can do 30!”
“Sure!” I thought. The rim is so low and I’m not too far, I should be able to do this easily. Well it wasn’t. It took me (what felt like an eternity) almost 15 minutes to hit 20. And with time ticking away and my impatience, I found myself wanting to…feeling the need to stop and give up.
I was shocked. It wasn’t the fact that I wanted to give up, it was all the voices and excuses that accompanied them that really surprised me.
“Oh, you can do it later.”
“It’s ok, you’re just having an off day, just rest for a bit, then continue.”
“It’s not going to matter if you do it or not. Just let it go, you got 20 what’s another 10?”
This litany of excuses I heard in my mind that gave me every reason to stop. “No!” I told myself. I was going to finish this, because it’s important. I needed to do this for myself and for my daughter who was looking at me with expectant eyes and heartfelt cheers.
“You go Baba!”
What a kid.
When I finished, I felt relieved, and began packing up. That’s when my daughter picked up my ball and said “I want to shoot 50.”
I was skeptical. “50? Are you sure?”
“No. I want to shoot 100!”
“100, let’s just take our time and go for 50 first.”
Normally we’d shoot for a bit and as soon as she got bored we’d pack-up and go. But that didn’t happen this time. We shot 50. It must have taken maybe another 20 minutes and no matter what I said, I just couldn’t dissuade her from shooting 100. Around 60 a small rain shower began. The drops weren’t heavy but it was spitting a bit.
“Ok, it’s raining, it’s time to go.”
“No. I can do it. I can hit 100.”
And so, I just watched. The rain stopped and she was determined. Maybe 20 minutes later, we were at 99 baskets. The picture you see above is the shot for basket number 100. What followed were amazing cheers and lots of running around and big grins.
I had doubted her. I had doubted myself. But most shamefully of all, I didn’t commit and rise to a simple challenge. My daughter taught me a lesson about dreaming big and following through and that was the best gift. Well, maybe that and hitting 100 baskets for the first time ever with my little girl.
— Richard (Team Blue)