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Winning Ways In Sports And Life

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Here we are again at playoff time for the NBA where the best in the game are competing for the ultimate prize, the national championship. It’s the same for nearly every sport, the weeding out of the lesser talents (and to some degree the more unlucky ones) to the rise and crowning of the winners. Many times those winners go on to be at the pinnacle of their sport time and time again.

What is it that makes some individuals excel while others drop out early on in any competition? Certainly natural talent is a major factor both in the world of sports and in any other endeavor, but it doesn’t seem to be the only consideration. There is some intangible quality that radiates from certain individuals that allows them to succeed at most anything they put their mind to. We have all seen examples of players whose natural gifts weren’t necessarily the cream of the crop but whose mental attitude, drive and determination more than made up for the difference. Their constant focus kept pushing them forward until they achieved their goal. In some ways that helps to level the playing field so that not only those who are born with innate gifts of speed, accuracy or high intelligence come out on top. It’s true in sports and it’s true in life.
Sometimes it’s not the ones who got the highest GPA or national test scores who are running the companies and sitting in the board rooms but rather the ones who were focused and driven and simply persevered.

A few years ago the Utah Jazz had an amazing point guard by the name of John Stockton. He was on the small side physically compared to many others who played that same position and at first glance might not have been taken for a premier athlete at all. That, however, is exactly what he was. True, he did have natural abilities and quickness that he developed and improved upon over time but his mental abilities were what put him at the top of his game. Losing never seemed to be an acceptable option to him no matter who his team was playing or what their current record was. His drive was unsurpassed. If only that quality could be captured and marketed! It is the missing link for many gifted individuals. It is the lacking ingredient whose absence contributes to their lack of success.

Unfortunately, drive doesn’t seem to be something that can be readily learned yet almost anyone can make a conscious choice to keep trying, to not give up. Remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare. It seemed obvious that the tortoise didn’t stand a chance in the race against the speed of the naturally gifted hare and yet the tortoise went on to win the race. In life, as in the story, oft-times when things come too easily people tend to “let up” and slack off instead of continuing full speed ahead. That is their undoing. While they are taking time off, the slower and less gifted participants are catching up with them, passing them, and going on to victory. That gives hope to those of us who are natural tortoises. Perhaps we can attain the victories and success we desire if we just keep trying and refuse, absolutely refuse to give up.

Nancy Smith is one of the owners of Robbinssports.com, an online retailer specializing in volleyball nets and basketball uniforms.