Most Embarrassing Moment…

of my career – on the basketball court.

First of all, my hoops “career” is not over. I have two gold medals playing on the U.S. World Master’s Basketball team. That’s Olympic sports for 35 years and older. Pretty cool, get to run with ex-NBA players, European Pros and more. If you play pickup ball or love any sport, image the chance to play with the best of the best for two weeks straight during an international tournament held once every four years. Add to that a practice schedule for six months prior to playing. This is a dream I never dreamed coming true.
But back to my blunder.

We’re winning my final game in college, Senior Day, to honor those of us who’ve put in their four years on the hardwood. So the other team is pressing us full court. That is, they are guarding us from one end of the floor to the other, hoping to get us to make a mistake so they get the ball back, score and close the gap between losing and winning.

I’m passing the ball in-bounds from under the other teams’ basket and a 6’8″ guy is jumping in front of me, hoping I’ll make a bad pass around his huge frame.

I throw the ball over his outstretched hands down the court, toward a teammate running for our hoop.

The ball slips out of my hand and rockets toward the ceiling. I mean rockets, like it was launched upward, rather than parallel to the floor toward our goal.

60 feet above us all, my ball strikes the rafters as the players freeze to watch and the crowd gasps at the enormity of my mistake.

The ball bounces off a beam and drops back toward the court.

And hidden above that beam was a badminton birdie, now dislodged from its nesting place.

It slowly floats down, swooping side to side as if enjoying some hidden wind current on it’s way back to earth.

Silence sweeps through the crowd as they watch the birdie weave its way toward center court.

About 17 minutes later, it hits the hardwood and the crowd explodes into cheers.

And there is nowhere for me to hide.

Here’s the thing about that moment – as dumb as I felt (and it really was too funny to feel foolish for long), there are a dozen times every game when a player makes mistakes. You learn to live with it. They don’t cripple you, they toughen you. So when life invades your existence beyond school (happens to all of us, eventually), your ability to bounce back is a tremendous advantage in the workplace.

Why not think for a moment about a few dumb moments of your own – not sales blunders, but personal mistakes that molded you into who you are today?

Then think of all the relationships that surround you; friends, family, co-workers and more.

You don’t get abandoned by them when you mess up, right?

See, you’re already successful, at that level, wealthy with the gold of people who care about you. That’s awesome!

Nothing to be embarrassed about there, right?

You’re getting great at what you do. Just say a little birdie told you.

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