As high school was coming to an end I played for an AAU travel team from Toronto. We traveled from city to city in Canada and the U.S. playing some of the best teams around.
One weekend we found ourselves in a tournament in the state of Pennsylvannia. We had made it to our tournament’s playoff round and were matched up against one of the best teams in the state. They were a scrappy team from inner-city Philadelphia.
Our team was made up of a bunch of white boys from a suburb outside of Toronto.
It’s always a good feeling to go into a game when you know the other team doesn’t think much of you.
At one point I got t’d up for pushing off too hard on a cut. Moments later my brother got an elbow to the teeth that resulted in a pool of blood on the court. We were in one of the scrappiest games we’d ever played in and it almost ended up in a full on royal rumble.
It was a fast-paced game and it went right down to the wire.
With less than 10 seconds on the clock it was a tie-game and we had possession. My coach drew up a play. I was to come off a weak side screen and pop a 3 for the win.
We had practiced this play over and over again. Just as we knew it would, coach’s play worked perfectly. I cut hard and curled around the screen wide open as I caught the ball. I squared up and fired as the buzzer went off.
As I released I saw my coach out of the corner of my eye. Just as the ball left my fingertips I heard him say, “That’s the game.” My coach had so much faith in me that he called it before he even saw the result.
That split second gave me so much confidence as the ball sailed towards the rim.
Talk about a let down. I was put in a position where everybody trusted me to finish off the game, and I blew it.
We were headed to overtime. In the heat of the moment I didn’t think about my lack of confidence after missing the big shot.
The lead went back and forth and then, all of a sudden, there we were again. It was our ball and we were down one with only seconds remaining. Coach called a timeout and drew up a play for me. I was to come off the screen at the top of the key and shoot for the win.
I rolled around the screen, caught the ball, squared up, and let her fly. ‘That’s the game,” was all I thought as the ball sailed towards the rim and time expired.
Unfortunately, I missed again and let my team down again.
But that’s not the point.
The moral of the story comes from my ‘caught in the moment’ attitude during OT. I did not think about my past failures. I thought about the moment at hand. No matter how many shots you miss or how many times you fail you still have to teach yourself to get back up and focus.
As an entrepreneur I miss so many shots that I’ve lost track. Often, it even feels like I’ve missed much more than I’ve made.
Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all-time, was famously quoted with regards to his perspective on success and failure:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
What makes Michael Jordan such a great player is the same thing that makes the best of the best entrepreneurs successful.
Failures do not faze them.
In fact, failures help them to grow.
If we want to be successful we need to teach ourselves to learn from our failures and progress so that when the opportunity arises we are ready to step up and take the big shot to win the game.