The Greatest Use of the F Word!

I have been involved in athletics at several levels including as an athlete, coach, parent, & broadcaster. I have never known the outcome of any game, win or lose, to be determined by one person or one play. Regardless of the outcome, win or lose, there are ALWAYS several people who made contributions, including athletes, coaches, officials & parents, to name a few.

If there is one thing I could change in this world of athletics (& life), it’s the mindset that failure means you suck, and success means you’re infallible. WRONG!
Failure is one of the best ways to learn the lessons we need to learn.
Everyone knows this quote (unless you’ve lived under a rock your entire life!)

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Not convinced yet? What about the great Babe Ruth? You probably know the “Great Gambino”, The Sultan of Swat”, “The King of Crash”, “The Colosus of Clout”, “The Babe”, because of his home run record (714 during his career). Did you know that along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all)? In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

This list of failed athletes who went on to super success goes on and on. It’s not only athletes that endure adversity before success either. For a list of many more inspiring stories, you can search: “Successful people who failed”.
Where failure does hurt, is in the athletes who internalize it and take it so personally that they can’t get beyond it. That voice continues to creep into their brain telling them they suck, they’ll never make it, they’re not good enough. All of that is CRAP! And sadly, that negativity is often precipitated by a coach, teammate, the media, or a parent who kicks them while they’re already down.

Trust me, unless they’re not human or have no soul, the athlete feels worse than everyone else about the “failure”. That missed shot, dropped pass, bad foul, turnover, etc. are already haunting the athlete. What they DON’T need is to be berated as if someone’s life depended on it. I don’t care how much money someone might make, or what is at stake to gain from a win or lose from a loss. It’s NOT life or death!
Yes, losing stinks! I still hate the feeling to this day. When my kids lose a game, I hurt almost as much as them. The coach in me would love to point out all the things they can improve on (which I’ve learned to do if/when they ask me… & it’s so hard to wait!), but what they really need is a hug! They need to know that someone is in their corner, ready to pick them up, dust them off, say “I believe in you”, and encourage them to learn the lessons and move forward!
I’ve shared this verse before, and it’s worth repeating:

“Speak without thinking, and your words can cut like a knife. Be wise, and your words can heal.” Proverbs 12:18

Or this one:

“When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29

Want more? Google “what does the bible say about the power of words.”

My hope for sharing this is that we all, regardless of our role, remember that we can accomplish much more in this life when we support and lift each other up. Encourage the people in your life to have fun, take risks, make mistakes, FAIL & learn the lessons, then step right back up to the plate. They’re much, much closer to their next home run!

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The Most Detrimental Form of Identity Theft

Have you ever had your identity stolen?  Imagine the feeling of someone else thieving your power, your name, your privacy, & who you really are.  What an awful, devastating, and hopeless experience.  There is another form of identity theft that is even more detrimental to you… In order to avoid this type of theft, answer this question; who would you be if your label was taken away from you?  I’m talking about the one thing that you relate with in the most personal way.  The answer you usually give to the question, who are you & what do you do? Or the description used by others to define you?

Recently, I was faced with the threat of identity theft at my own hands. I had to make the tough decision to protect myself while making a major life change. So, I did what I had to do…

I broke up with my identity!

Sounds harsh right? I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. We had been together for 10 years! I went back-and-forth struggling with the decision. After all, my identity is what brought me attention and celebrity status. I enjoyed being with her. She was fun, she took me all over the country, and to some very exotic places. She helped me meet some of the most amazing people & create lifelong friendships.  She also offered an immediate connection, and opened a lot of doors with others. Their eyes would light up at the mention of her. Several times, complete strangers would walk up to me and say “hello” as if we were old friends. Some would even ask for my autograph, all because of her.  Wow! She was pretty freaking awesome! Not only that, but I’m the only one who could claim this particular title, so that means she was unique too.  How cool is that?  Then why the hell would I ever want to break up with her?

The concept of identity is something that has become a very important topic for me. Too often I see people wrap themselves up in what they do. They are the smart one, they are the basketball player, the football player, the coach, the executive, the leader, the trouble maker, the parent, or any of the thousands of other labels we put on ourselves. Worse yet are the tags we allow others to put on us. Those that infect our hearts and minds, and become our identification.  You’re not smart enough, you’re not tall enough, you’re not fast enough, you’re not attractive, you’re damaged goods…  you are not enough!

Whenever we allow what we do, (or what someone else says we are or are not), to determine our identity, we give away our power.

Giving away our power is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. I know firsthand, because I did just that when I allowed myself to be known as “the basketball player”.  While it may seem great at the time, it is devastating when that distinction ends. That is why, when I decided to end my role as the radio analyst for a D-I college basketball team, I thought twice about it. I was essentially breaking up with an identity that had been really good to me. It had brought me a lot of perks, attention, and recognition.

I prayed a lot about the decision, and I drew from my past experiences and lessons learned. Thankfully, what I learned is that my identity is not who I am to the public. It is not my career, it is not my past, nor my accomplishments. It is not my failures, it is not my relationships, nor is it what anyone else says I am.

I learned that only God has the power to determine who I am. Admittedly it was still difficult to let go of my radio analyst title. I even cried at the ending of such a beautiful & rewarding relationship. I also laughed at God’s sense of humor. There I was, passionate about helping others discover their true identity and purpose, and desiring to save others from the hurt that would inevitably come from giving away their power.  It was as if God was standing there looking at me and saying “Well Shelley, now what are you going to do? The time has come to put your money where your mouth is.”  Okay okay, I get it. You’re right God. I know I am not what I do. It has been a great ride and now it’s time to move on. Time to have faith… Time to embrace uncertainty with anticipation of God’s next role for me.

One thing is for certain. My identity & power are rooted in God, therefore, I will no longer be a victim of theft.

He is the vine & we are the branches.  When we stay joined, then we will produce lots of fruit, but apart we can do nothing.

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