When I was coaching junior college basketball at Wentworth Military Academy a young man by the name of Hugh “Boo” Ray played for me. “Boo” was a high-school stand out in Memphis, Tennessee. He had a tremendous stroke and played the game with a fire and passion. His dream was to play at Mississippi State. During his senior year “Boo” completely blew out his knee. Teams that had been calling stopped. Coaches who had been watching “Boo’s” team play quit coming to the games. He went from being one of the most promising players in the City of Memphis to trying to recoup from his knee injury.
I was fortunate that we had established a Memphis recruiting connection. When I heard that “Boo” was still looking for a school to play ball at, I couldn’t believe it. We immediately made contact with him. We were very interested in “Boo”, and playing at a junior college would give him a shot at fulfilling his dream.
In our locker room we had motivational signs posted for the players to read. One caught “Boo’s” eyes. It read:
Excellence can be attained if you
Care more than others think is wise
Risk more than others think is safe
Dream more than others think is practical, and
Expect more than others think is possible.
He slowly recovered from his injury keeping his dream in the back of his mind. He had lost a step but was still a deadly accurate shooter. “Boo” was our leader, both on the court and within the Corp of Cadets. But he was not getting the D-1 looks that he had hoped for. He made a decision that really didn’t surprise me. We have all heard of, or seen the Rudy story. “Boo” was going to make his own “Rudy” story.
He visited Mississippi State and spoke to Coach Richard Williams. Coach Williams told “Boo” he would give him a shot as a walk-on/practice player. He practiced every day with the determination and desire he had exhibited at Wentworth. He earned the right to suit up for MSU games. Like Rudy, “Boo” didn’t get mega minutes. Playing time was at a premium, and he gave it everything he had when the opportunity presented itself.
Coach Williams told me that “If the other players played with the heart and determination that “Boo” played with, the team would do much better.” “Boo” became a fan favorite in his two years at Mississippi State. He lived his dream because he Cared more, Risked more, Dreamed more, and Expected more – of himself – than anyone else did.
Unlike Hugh “Boo” Ray, anyone can quit – and many have given up when the going gets tough. Others haven’t completely given up; they just let off the accelerator and settle for being less than they could be. Last week, I asked the students in my Alternative School, “When faced with an obstacle that keeps you from reaching your dream, how many of you would give up?” Without hesitation over half the students said they would quit.
Going back to our poem, Excellence can be attained if you:
Care more than others think is wise – It has been said that one of the surest ways to be hurt is to care more than others think you should. On the flip side, if you want to be successful, you have to care more than others think is wise or prudent. Winners aren’t happy finishing in second place. A winner will do everything in their power to overcome those obstacles that manage to get in their way.
Risk more than others think is safe – remember our story of Legson Kayira (Motivational Moments #234). He risked everything – his health, his safety, his life, his family – all to fulfill his dream of coming to America to get an education in the land of his heroes. Former heavyweight champion, Michael Spinks stated, “If you don’t take chances, you can’t do anything in life.”
Dream more than others think is practical – In 1968 the Olympics were held in Mexico City, Mexico. A very talented U.S. track and field team was poised to smash both Olympic and World records. One competitor on the Men’s team was told repeatedly he would not be successful with his high jump technique. Dick Fosbury had created an unorthodox style of high jumping – one that his doubters said would fade into obscurity. Fosbury remarked, “I was told over and over again that I would never be successful, that I was not going to be competitive and the technique was simply not going to work. All I could do was shrug and say, ‘We’ll just have to see.'” Fosbury won the Olympic Gold medal. Today, almost every high jumper uses his technique.
Expect more than others think is possible – When I go out to speak to companies or organizations, one of the challenges I face is to get the participants to stretch their comfort zones. We do this with an interactive demonstration that involves a number of participants reaching outside their comfort zones and learning to juggle – in five minutes. Their initial reaction is “I can’t do this.” Our nature tells us it’s okay to stay within our comfort zones. We don’t want to feel the pain of failure when we try something new. However, when we replace how we feel about ourselves with pictures of being successful, we are willing to go for it. We expect more from ourselves. Author Wayne Dyer says, “It’s never crowded along the extra mile.”
Are you willing to Care more, Risk more, Dream more, and Expect more? If you are you are in a very small group of individuals. Most people call them, WINNERS.