Take The Shot!

People playing basketball

As young child, we fantasize about being the hero. Once we’re older, we have to remember that in real life, we can’t win unless we take chances.

One second to play. Your team is down a single point and you’re at the free throw line to shoot a one and one. Five thousand fans are packed into the gym. The winner goes to the State Tournament; the loser goes home. Make the first shot and the game is tied; make the second shot and your team wins. But miss the first shot, your team loses and you are the goat.

It is a classic pressure situation. Every kid who ever dribbled a basketball in the backyard or on a playground has fantasized about being the player who toes the line for that shot.

I must have played that scenario out on my driveway court back home in Lexington, Kentucky a thousand times when I was a kid. When we were kids, we imagined ourselves as brave and fearless, willing to accept risk and shoulder the responsibility. We constantly put ourselves into the most pressure packed situations- the final kick in soccer, the bottom of the ninth homer that earned our team a victory.

Why? Because we wanted to be the hero- to feel important, to be mobbed by the fans, to be hoisted by our teammates. Oh sure, that’s part of it.

But I don’t believe that is the only reason we placed ourselves in those situations.  At that time we didn’t understand. How would we perform when the pressure is real rather imagined? Would we come through as we always did in our make believe world or would we get tagged with the most dreaded of all labels, the choker?

As children, we envisioned the adult world as some great new adventure. We were not worried about pressure. We closed our eyes and saw ourselves doing all kinds of amazing things.

As we grow older and we start to see our weaknesses we start to lose confidence. We start to see pressure situations as opportunities to fail, rather than to succeed. Worse, we compound the pressures in our lives from work and home by piling responsibility on top of responsibility. Eventually, that childlike wonder we once had for the big world around us is gone.

We need to rediscover that childlike ability to handle pressure situations. We need to look at tomorrow with eagerness rather than fear.

Here are some ways I have dealt with the burdens of life.

  • Breathe deep. Breathing is always key!
  • Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are a statue.
  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • Never buy a car you can’t push.
  • If you lend someone a $20.00 and never see them again, it was probably worth it.
  • The second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
  • Nobody cares if you dance well, just dance.
  • Wherever you are, be there.

How are you going to look fear in the eyes this week and embrace the pressure?

Happy 4th of July! 


Dave Wickstrom signature