A few years ago, my son told me he wanted to try a new AAU basketball team. He had played for a couple years on one team and he felt that he needed a change. I had heard about a team in Roxbury that had an excellent coach who had once played for the NBA so we decided to try it out.

When we arrived, this coach immediately threw my son into the scrimmage without any introduction. My son at first played very hesitantly since he didn’t know any of the players or plays, but the coach kept yelling to him, “William, I like what I’m seeing.” The more the coach yelled this, the more confident my son played and, by the end of the game, my son was shooting and scoring like I hadn’t seen him do so in years.

At one point, the team was losing. The coach called a time out, pulled the team together and said in his commanding, low voice, “Think like winners.” It made me think, “how often do we think of ourselves as winners?”

The best part came after the game. The boys were sent downstairs to Academics. Admittedly it sounded odd to me; Academics? I asked the two young women who taught it what it was and they invited me to observe it. 

Academics was really an esteem building session. The women asked the boys to define words such as ‘faith’, ‘ambition’ and ‘determination’ and why this was so important to incorporate in their lives. I watched the confused expression on my son’s face trying to figure out how he would answer. I don’t believe he’d ever been part of a group where he was asked questions that forced him to dig down deep inside himself.

Soon the coach entered the room and asked the boys, “I want you to define the word ‘perseverance.'” The boys looked at each other not knowing exactly what to say. Finally, one boy raised his hand and said, “work hard.”  

The coach answered, “that’s only a part of it.”

He started strolling around the inner part of the circle and, at 6’8″, his head nearly touched the ceiling. He continued, “Whenever you are going to achieve something, you have to expect that it’s going to be tough. You guys compete against each other. Did you think it would be easy? You have to expect a difficult game. You expect hard work. You expect a difficult situation and you push through anyway. That’s what perseverance is.”

This is the attitude we need to adopt when we are going to break a habit, such as smoking or drinking. It’s not going to be easy, but we need to do it in order to live a more fulfilling and empowered life.

This is also the attitude we need to embrace when we encounter a new situation, such as implementing healthier eating habits, starting daily meditation because we want to feel calmer and more connected etc. We enter these situations knowing that they’re going to be challenging, but we push through them any way. 

This is the attitude we need to have when we walk into a room full of strangers; that it’s going to be uncomfortable, but we push through it.

Perseverance leads us to lead meaningful lives!