Greatness, along with other words such as "Elite" and "Potential," is overused in the basketball world today. The truth is, very few players become great because they are unaware of what it takes to reach greatness. Below is a list of different actions that need to happen if you want to reach greatness some day. As you will read, it won’t be easy but I guarantee it'll be worth it!
You'll Miss Out On Social Events
You'll miss out on late night parties in order to get in a late night workout. You'll miss out on pool parties and movie dates to get in the weight room and study film. Your friends will get to go on road trips and you'll have to go to tournaments. Not only will you miss out on parties and gatherings but you will probably lose friends along the way. People won't understand why you do what you do - they will call you crazy. That's okay. No one ever did anything worth mentioning without being different than everyone else.
Dr. Abdul Kalam once said, "Dreams are not the things you see in your sleep, but rather the things that keep you from sleeping." Sometimes you'll need to sacrifice sleep to study film at night or to get up and get in a skills workout the next morning. Would you rather sleep an extra hour or get an extra hour of work in?
Now, understand that as a player you will need sleep to be productive in practice and on game days. Therefore, if you are out with your friends late, scrolling through social media or chasing your dreams on NBA 2K you are not getting better - get your butt to bed.
If you have read any of my tweets in the past then you know how big I am on making workouts purposeful. You will never become great by constantly working on clown drills and trying to perfect moves you will never use in a game. Study your game, talk to your coach, find out what you will be doing this year and work to perfect those skills.
Being purposeful doesn't just translate to the court; it carries over to the weight room as well. Players need to make sure the lifting program they use is designed to make them a better basketball player and not the bulkiest person on the court.
Trust the Process
The fact is that every player will have bumps along the way to greatness. You will have bad games and good games - bad practices and good practices. The key is to always believe in yourself and your abilities. If you have put in the work the results will come. Trust the process and trust yourself.
Ignore Haters, But Not Truth Tellers
Everyone thinks everyone is a "hater." Now, I agree there will be haters along the way that you must ignore to get where you want to be. Some people will be jealous of you and do anything to bring you down. With that being said, just because someone criticizes you does not mean they are a hater. If someone tells you that you cannot shoot and you shoot 20% from the field, they are not a hater. They are a truth teller. If someone tells you that your defense needs some work and everyone gets buckets on you, they are not a hater. They are a truth teller. Ignore the haters that want to bring you down, but do not ignore the truth tellers.
When all is said and done, being great at anything in life comes down to one thing: Hard work. How much time are you willing to put into your game? How much are you willing to sacrifice to be better than the player next to you? Being great requires taking no shortcuts when it comes to hard work. Each and everyday you must wake up and outwork everyone. Not just the people on your team, in your conference or even in the state. You must have the mindset you are going to outwork EVERYONE. It's not a coincidence that players that get labeled as "the first one there, the last one to leave" are usually the best players on their team. “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.” - Christopher McDougal
Being great isn't normal. Who would want to miss out on social events and sleep? Or maybe the better question is this: Who would want to miss out on the chance to become something special and different? If it were easy, everyone would do it. Are you willing to take the leap and chase greatness? Chasing greatness is scary. You will feel alone. Being average is easy, comfortable and everyone does it. I am going to leave you with my favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt on taking the risk of being different and going after something that others are too scared to. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."