This piece originally appeared on The Well, Jopwell’s editorial hub.
I didn’t start playing basketball until I was 14. Growing up in Philadelphia, I warmed the bench in high school and went on to play college ball at an NCAA Division III school.
When I decided I wanted to play professionally after school, I had my work cut out for me. It took a lot of what I call “mental toughness” to find my way in a profession I knew virtually nothing about. I always had the on-court confidence to keep working toward my dream, so in a lot of ways, the challenge was figuring out the rest of the game – the off the court part.
I ultimately managed to play basketball professionally outside of the U.S. for nine years in Lithuania, Mexico, and Slovakia. Today, I’m a speaker, coach, and author, with an expertise in mental toughness. I help others develop the confidence, discipline, and mental toughness to get where they want to be, whether it’s in their personal or professional lives.
Here’s my guide to getting your voice heard in basketball, the boardroom, or anywhere else:
Don’t wait for “more information” to get started. Whatever it is that you’re working toward, the information is likely endless, and you’ll be waiting forever! Start now and learn as you go. You’ll figure out what makes you unique in the process. Look for the intersection of what you’re good at (credibility) and what you care about (passion). Start now. Yes: NOW.
Maybe you want more than one thing. That’s fine – now find a way to unify your goals into one chief aim. Next, decide what you plan to give in order to reach your goal – there is no such thing as “something for nothing.” Go into high levels of “unreasonable” amounts of action.
You need a real reason to make a change. Without this reason, no strategy will work. Share your reason. Have a partner or coach you respect enough hold you accountable and even enact punishments if you don’t hold up your end of the deal.
Feed your mind with material – books, podcasts, pictures, places, and things – which lather your mind in the energies and ideas you want. Done enough, you condition this into your normal way of thinking and being. From here, the actions naturally follow. In creating a professional basketball career, I took massive action. I attended every camp I could find, worked on my game daily, and fed my mind thoughts of exactly what I wanted – no negativity or doubt allowed.
I and many other determined, decisive people have made it happen, and now it’s your turn.
Images courtesy of Dre Baldwin