When my nephews J and B were little boys, five and six years old, they played in the same YMCA youth basketball league. They were on different teams. The day finally came when their teams played each other.
My nephews have always been very different from the time they were small. B had an extra measure of athletic ability and a quick mind. My nephew J had less athletic ability, but more than an extra measure of enthusiasm.
The game began. As one of the best players for his team, B started. He was in there, but his eyes were watching everything but the game. There were people above the court, running on the indoor track. He’d watch them more than anything happening on the court. He was in his own world. During breaks, he could not care less about what the coach had to say. He kept volunteering to come out of the game.
My other nephew, J, sat on the bench at first. He focused on the game. His eyes followed all of the action on the court. Finally, he got in the game.
B was still in the game, the coach not willing to take him out, but still was lackadaisical. He contributed, but it was by rote and obvious he‘d prefer not to be in there. He was not living up to his potential and quite obviously let the others on the team take the lead and play the game.
J finally got his hands on the ball. We gasped. He took a shot. We winced. But it went in. Everyone was surprised but him. He jumped up and down and pointed in our direction to make sure we noticed. And to show off a bit. We cheered and laughed at ourselves. We underestimated him.
I have no idea which team won. I remember that J played beyond his perceived ability. B did not.
There are lessons to be learned from my two nephews.
- Natural talent, not applied, doesn’t get you very far. You become bored…