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Next Play | Mindset Mondays

Dreams do not come true at the snap of a finger. They require patience and determination. 

- Trey Gowdy (Start, Stay, or Leave)

In one of his legendary Nike commercials, Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

In another commercial, Jordan said, “Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn’t. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game-winner; that my game was built on flash, and not fire. Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength; that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God-given gift and not something I worked for every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game … or maybe you are just making excuses.” 

In a school district that I worked for, we would ask, “Who has the grit and toughness to take the big shot?” Not everybody can handle the pressure that comes with taking and missing the big shot.

Not everyone can be Michael Jordan. Not everybody has the grit and guts to take and miss a big shot and then bounce back and take the same shot again.

NBA GM James Jones says the key to growth and development is being able to bounce back from failure. He was an NBA journeyman who became an NBA GM. He joined the Phoenix Suns staff when they were one of the worst teams in the NBA, but he quickly helped them grow into becoming one of the best teams in the league, and he credits a lot of his success with his ability to try new things, fail, learn from failure, and keep going.

James Jones is good at what he does in part because he wasn’t too afraid to fail.

James says basketball provides one of the best learning opportunities because there are almost 100 possessions in an NBA game, so there are over 100 opportunities for you to try and fail each game. The best of the best are those who don’t avoid failure but can learn from and move on from failure quickly and efficiently.

Even the best teams in the NBA fail. On average, NBA champions lose over 20 games in a season, or about 25% of their games. Nobody is perfect, and nobody goes undefeated. The best of the best have to learn how to manage failure.

In other sports, failure holds even more weight. The average Hall of Famer in baseball only gets on base about 38% of the time, so they fail more times than they succeed.

How do you manage failure? How do you manage the fear of failure? How do you do the things you know you have to do even though you might be afraid of failure?

Alan Stein is a former NBA trainer who now writes best-selling books and speaks to businesses and leaders all over the world. He says the best of the best know how to move on to the Next Play. He said one of his responsibilities as a trainer was to make sure every single player could quickly move on to the Next Play. Turnovers, missed shots, and bad calls are all parts of the game, but we have to quickly move on to the Next Play because it is the only one we can do anything about. Any time or energy we put in the past is time or energy that we aren’t able to invest at the moment, and this keeps us from being able to perform at our best.

When we CHOOSE to hang our head, pout, or complain, we are CHOOSING to hold ourselves and our teammates back.

So CHOOSE to move on to the Next Play. We will all make mistakes but don’t compound on mistakes. When I was working in education, we would get parent complaints daily. We learned that we could solve 90% of our issues by doing two things: acknowledging that something happened, and telling everyone involved that we were going to hold ourselves meaningfully accountable.

We wrote two words - acknowledge and accountability - on sticky notes, and taped them on our desks. This is the first two steps towards moving on to the Next Play. Acknowledge what happened, and accept it by holding yourself accountable. The third step is to learn from it, and the final step is to move on from it.

1 ACKNOWLEDGE IT: Something happened, and you can’t do anything about what has already happened.

2 - HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE: Own your part. Don’t point fingers at anyone else.

3 - LEARN FROM IT: Learn and grow from every situation so you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

4 - MOVE ON FROM IT: Don’t let 1 mistake turn into 2, and don’t let 2 turn into 4. Move on to the Next Play as quickly as possible.

The best of the best fail over and over again. But they are the best because they acknowledge their imperfections, they hold themselves accountable, they learn from their mistakes, and they move on from them.

Don't hold yourself back because you are too focused on the past. Find ways to keep moving on to the Next Play.


1 - When do you struggle to move on to the Next Play?

2 - What are some effective coping mechanisms that have helped you move on to the Next Play?

3 - What can you start doing now to help prepare you for your next Next Play opportunity?

For a printable version of this blog, click here: Next Play

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