What “Uncle Drew” taught me about success

uncledrewIf you haven’t heard about the now infamous “Uncle Drew” story, then you’re in for a treat.

I came across “Uncle Drew” while looking for basketball tips, so that I could help coach my 12 year old son Jacob, who was trying out for a spot on the school team.

I’ll get to “Uncle Drew” shortly…

So one day I take my son to a nearby school that had some outdoor basketball hoops, so that we could practice his shooting skills. Although, he had only recently showed some interest in basketball, I watched him handle the ball and I thought to myself that he has a natural flare for it.

So part way through our drills two older boys turn up to do the same thing, and since there’s only one hoop in the playground, we decide to share the same hoop.

So here we all are shooting at the same hoop. It’s a little chaotic at first, and you do have to duck the odd basketball here and there, but it works, and we get our practice in.

It’s obvious that the older boys have some skills and have played a lot. They dart around the court, throw their three point shots and do all these fancy double pump, fade away, hippy hop shots.

My son and I are close to the hoop shooting at the corner square up on the back board over and over again. It’s a little uncool, but I believe a good foundation is what I need him to develop at this point. The fancy shots can come later.

Then one of the older boys turn to us and say “Hey you wanna play a game?”

My son seems unsure about it, because he has seen the older boys play … and it’s obvious that they aren’t newbies to the game, plus they’re bigger. I leave the decision up to him to make and with a little hesitation he says – okay then.

So we start …

My son’s a little nervous, I’m a little nervous too, because its the first time I had picked up a basketball in twenty years. I’m a little older, slower, and heavier than I used to be in high school. My hair is a little lighter, some call it gray, I like to say blonde, and I’m not as agile as I used to be. But I know that a little competition would be good for my son as it will help stretch him.

I know that stretching yourself can be a little scary at times and it can almost seem as if it’s too much, but if you’re brave enough to stretch, you enter a new level of excellence. Your old version of excellence becomes redundant and the new, the norm.

And that’s where “Uncle Drew” comes into the picture.

If you haven’t seen Uncle Drew watch it now. There’s one thing that stood out to me in this video that is the basis of my story, can you see it?

Watch it now before reading the rest of my story.

Okay, so coming back to my story …

What the older boys didn’t know was that I had dedicated a number of years to playing basketball in high school, they were unaware of all of the hard work and dedication I had put into the game when I was their age. They didn’t see the earlier mornings, lunch time and after school practices, the shooting and ball handling drills. What they saw was a older dude, shooting hoops with his son.

Often when we see people who have got what we want … we NEVER think about the path they took to get them there. We don’t see the long hours of blood, sweat and tears … we don’t see the unstoppable mindset that gets them up in the morning at 5 am to practice … all we see is the end result and we sit back and say … man they’re lucky. I wish I could do that … Or – oh they’re successful because they caught a lucky break … or – maybe its because they’re fit … or – its because she’s beautiful … or – its because he’s tall.

Uncle Drew or should I say Kyrie Irving’s skills was something that really stood out for me in this video. His level of excellence was just so much higher than everyone elses.

And yes … I do know he’s a professional basketball player, but to become a professional he had to start at the same place as everyone else. BUT, he had stretched himself to a point where his skills were unmatched to everyday people like you and I. The hours of dedication to his craft was obvious, and by developing his skills they became his new norm.

How did he get so good? Watch this.

When I watched this video, my gauge for excellence shifted. It made me think past what we see on the surface … you know the end result … to now thinking about stretching and reaching new incremental levels of excellence within my field, until my new norm becomes unmatched.

Uncle Drew taught me that to be successful you have to dedicate yourself to your craft. You have to walk the path, even if it means getting up early in the morning, working late at night, whatever you have to do, do it. It means stretching, developing new skills and growing until your new norm gets you to where you want to be.

So as my son and I walked away from the court after beating the older boys in basketball, the Uncle Drew story popped into my mind, not because I was throwing it down like Uncle Drew … far from it … but more that I was the older dude on the court.  BUT as I thought about the event, I knew there was a lesson in there for me somewhere.

As we left the court, I caught a passing comment from one of the boys …

Oh … they only won because he’s tall.

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