Basketball is not just a game you play on a hard court. It doesn’t just involve 10 guys dribbling, passing, shooting, and doing fast breaks. If you think about it hard enough, basketball actually helps teach any person, regardless of age, background, color, religion, or origin some key truths of life. Knowing these life lessons can take your game-the way you view life and the quality of your life decisions-to the next level.
Life Lesson #1: To achieve you must first believe
Let’s face it, if you think the ball you’re shooting is not going to go through the rim, then chances are it will hit the backboard or bounce on the rim. Your beliefs can focus your attention and your actions so what you plan to achieve have a higher chance of becoming reality. On the other hand, if you do things while thinking, at the back of your head, that you’ll fail or things won’t turn out as you expected, you probably will undermine your performance.
Life Lesson #2: To get what you want, you must first give others what they want
Basketball is a team sport. It is extremely rare for an NBA team to win if just one team member takes all the shots. There has to be give and take. Everyone must be given a chance to shine and strut their stuff. The same applies to any kind of team in life. If you want to be a great leader, you need to inspire others by trusting them to not the drop the ball and get things done. You need to trust them to rise up to their fullest potential by giving them opportunity after opportunity along with the right guidance and encouragement. It’s all about teamwork.
Life Lesson #3: Showing up day after day IS a reward
No one is born great at basketball. Seriously. Even seeming ‘naturals’ like LeBron James had to hone their skills. They have to show up to practice every single day and put in hours of practice to perform at peak levels during game time. The same applies to your attitude at anything you do. Let’s face it, there are many things about your work and your responsibilities that you’d rather not deal with. However, when you resolve to simply deal with them day after day, they become less intimidating. You’re less likely to consider them hassles or chores. This is crucial. Once you reach this point, you can then put in the work to become excellent. You can’t become excellent when you feel that what you’re doing is a hassle or a waste of time.
Life Lesson #4: Trying and losing are the price you pay for victory
Every shot you take in basketball is not going to be successful. Many bounce off the rim or the backboard. Many don’t even come close to the rim at all. Still, you keep taking shots. Even if other people are swarming around you, guarding you, trying to swat that ball out of your hands, you keep taking shots. Over and over, you keep getting that ball through the rim.
Eventually, you reach a point where you are able to predict how the defense is going to act. Eventually, you figure out just the right angle to make a difficult shot. Eventually, you are able to fake out defenders and take easier and easier shots. All these don’t happen because you simply got lucky. All these don’t happen because the right strategies simply fell into your lap. Nope. All these happened because you were able to connect the dots.
You were able to become faster, nimbler, and move more efficiently because you put in the work. You showed up and did your best each and every time. You failed most of the time but you kept at it. Eventually, things started falling into place. Keep in mind that you would not have reached this
point if you did not put in the time and effort and failed and failed.
Life Lesson #5: Winning is just the icing on the cake
It’s easy to get excited about NBA championships. It’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria of your team going through the whole regular season, slogging it out through the playoffs, and coming out on top at the very end. But what most people miss is that the winning team became the winning team not because they were predetermined or they ‘had it in the bag.’
The winning team became winners because they let the process of winning change them. Winning is a mindset. It is not a fixed destination. It is not just a goal. Instead, it is a person value system that requires you to put in the time. It doesn’t matter if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. It doesn’t matter if there was a traffic jam on the way to the game or practice. It doesn’t matter if members of the team weren’t getting alone. All that matters is that everyone put in the work and worked together towards a common goal. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Until the goal is achieved. In short, the process changed the team and turned whiners into winners and zeroes into heroes.
Life Lesson #6: Basketball proves that the world cares only about results not your feelings
Getting to the NBA championships requires a lot of sweat, tears, sacrifice, planning, and all out effort. You can’t whine, complain, or pout your way to the championships. People don’t care about what you felt you can do or how much potential you feel you have. They definitely don’t have the time to hear your excuses or justifications.
In the NBA, either the ball goes through the hoop or it doesn’t. Either the team moves the ball quickly and efficiently from Point A to Point B or they don’t. Either the team is disciplined about fouls or they aren’t. There is no gray area. There is no ‘best effort’ or ‘you had the best intentions.’ It’s all binary: either you produce or you don’t. Either you win or you don’t. Life is just like that. The world doesn’t care about your potential. All it cares about is what you did with your time and how much value your actions bring to the table. Keep the 6 key life lessons basketball teaches and shoot that three pointer you’ve always wanted to shoot. You have it in you.