Attitude is everything – Donkey in a hole

Featured

Early this week a Facebook friend of mine shared a post of the donkey that fell into a well.   The farmer who owns the donkey thought that it was too old, so he decided to bury the donkey instead of finding a way to help it to get out of the hole.

As I read that post, I was reminded of the challenges that I went through growing up when people around me did not believe in me, that I could achieve anything in life.  When people close to me, constantly reminded me on a daily basis of my lack of intellectual capabilities, and because of that I thought I would not amount to anything.   When you hear that daily, it is like being brainwashed. You started believing that it is true and other people’s perception become your reality.   Perhaps it is true; I ponder that.   The reality is that I really was not smart compared to my siblings.   In addition, I did not achieve the same academic success year in and year out.  In fact, I never achieved anything academically until later in my high school education.

Back then, I almost gave up.   I felt that there was no point of trying when people put you in a box and no one gives you a chance.   But then, like the donkey when its owner started shoveling soil down that hole, I started to lose hope.   I still remember that feeling of emptiness and feeling sorry for myself.  Self pity kicked in and I rolled down this slippery hole of negative thoughts.

Not until someone showed interest in my ability and encouraged me to try did I have hope.  But the reality is, not until I changed my attitude did things change around me.    That day, I decided to prove to everyone who doubted me that I could get it done, that I had the courage to grind and push and dig deep to try my best.  Yes, the reality is I was not given the intellectual ability, but I’m blessed to be here on earth and there is a great reason and role for my existence.   Maybe I will succeed, maybe I won’t, but unless I try I will never know.

The first step of believing in myself was the hardest.   I had to convince myself that I would ignore the voice and what people said around me.   It is hard, but each day that I push and dig deep, it becomes easier and easier to move on.  I focus on small wins or success and build upon that.  Just like the donkey I shake the things that people around me are saying and I step up on the soil that was dumped on me.   Yes, it takes a long time, but is your current situation any better?  Don’t you think you deserve better?   Ponder on that. We all deserve better as long as we want to put in the work to get there.

We must develop the discipline to work on what we desire to achieve.   Focus on the end goal and persist.   Remember that defeat is only final when you give up and accept it.   Persistence is the key; we start by believing in ourselves.    Work on it and develop a bulldog persistence and work on it daily.   Develop a never-give-up attitude.

Looking back in my life, yes I came a long way.  Many times I would meet people from my past that say they are amazed at what I accomplished.   It all changed because I chose to do something about it.  I was diligent in working toward achieving goals one day at a time without ceasing.

I am a long way from achieving my goal and continue to work on it on a daily basis.   It helps to keep that in mind. As you achieve a certain level of success, give back to your community and mentor others, spread your knowledge and develop a community of folks that believe in empowering others.

A journey to remember

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

Believing in my team

In the fall of 2012, my nine year old daughter decided that she wants to join St. Elizabeth 4th grade girls basketball team.    I recognized that this would give me an opportunity to be part of her activity so I volunteered as an assistant coach.

A few weeks before the season started, I received a phone call from the commissioner of our school that our team did not have a coach.   He suggested that I think about volunteering as the head coach.   I was not sure I was up for the challenge.   I spoke to my daughter and asked her if she really wanted to play basketball.   My thought process was, if I can convince her not to join, then I’m off the hook.  But she insisted that she wanted to play and urged me to coach the team.    That night I pondered on the responsibility as a head coach and its demand.   As it is, my work demand is high, but then I still want to be part of my daughter’s activity.     In my mind, I did not want to miss out on the opportunity.

During the next two weeks, I worked on my schedule and tried to move things around so I could be available.  I gave the commissioner a call and informed him of my decision to coach my daughter’s team.    That night I was left wondering if I have what it takes to coach the 4th grade girls basketball team.   I used to play basketball, but the last time I played was about 15 years ago.   The last time I coached a team was back when I was a senior in high school coaching the freshman team.

Over the next few weeks, I prepared for the upcoming season by reading books, practicing and watching videos.   I realized that I was putting in a lot of time and effort.   As always, I never do things halfway.  If I decide to do something, I often put in 100% effort and try my best.  That’s how my father taught me growing up.  You need to always try your best.  The outcome might not be what you expected, but as long as you tried your very best and put in your best effort, that was good enough for him.   It is the same values that I passed along to my daughters.   A great addition to my team was the daughter of my former co-worker, who offered to help me coach my team.

I was anxious about our first practice.   I started the session by asking the girls why they wanted to play basketball.   Each of them gave me their reason and I gave them my objective for coaching the team.   My focus for the practice was learning the fundamentals, teamwork, sportsmanship, trusting one another and having fun playing the game.

Our first game was against St. Anthony.  When we walked in the gym, I was surprised to see the girls on the other team were a lot taller than the girls on my team.    I kept my composure and focused on our game.  I knew, if we played our game and focused our defense, we had a chance to win the game.  The first game went really well and we won the game.   We also taught the girls sportsmanship by stopping from scoring once our lead was over a dozen points.  It was a hard concept for them to understand, but in the end they understood why it is important for us to respect our opponent.

Over the next few games, the team learned to work through adversity and won a couple of close games.   Before we knew it, we had won five games in a row.    Some folks approached me and congratulated me for a job well done, but I kept on saying that it was the team that did all the work.  I often attributed our success to the team’s commitment to teamwork.    I also found out that there were some reservations that this team might not do well this season.    From my perspective, there was no doubt that my team was capable of winning games, because of their commitment to learn and work hard at all times.

We closed the season with a loss, but that loss taught us a valuable lesson, that we need to play the entire game and we cannot just show up the second half.  We lost by a point.  I told the team that I was proud of them for coming out and playing well the second half.     The team remained hungry and eager to prove themselves.

We won our semi-final game and went on to play in the championship.   In the championship game, we faced the same team that we played three close games during the season.   We won all three games, but I emphasized to my team that we could not take them lightly.  Before the start of the game, I told the girls that I was so proud of them for working hard all year and they should enjoy this game.   I told them that I believed in them and that we needed to leave everything on the court and be aggressive. I stressed that we needed to come out strong and played our game.   We led the first half, but then they came back and led by 4 points with less than 3 minutes to go.   We were out of sync.   I called a couple of timeouts and during each one of the timeouts I told them that I believed in them that we could come back from the deficit.    I reiterated that I believed in them and did they believe in themselves.   They responded “YES.”  We proceeded to score a three-point play, then another basket that gave us the lead.    We won the game by a point.   The girls were so happy and everyone came running onto the court.

I was so happy for the girls.  They played hard and came back to win the game.   This win demonstrated that with hard work, dedication and commitment we can overcome all obstacles.   I told them that I’m really proud of them.     During the awarding ceremony, I thanked the host of the event, our opponent, AOL, who played four great games, the parents for their commitment, my assistant coaches for their contributions, and my players for working hard all season.   We completed a magical season in which we compiled an 11-1 record.

Here is my lesson learned:

  • Be patient – Patience is the most important virtue.   By stepping back and learning to listen to them, I was able to help them learn the fundamentals of basketball and enjoy it in the process.
  • Believe in them – I never doubted my team’s capabilities.  From day one, I knew that with proper coaching and support my team’s capability was unlimited.    I saw the joy in their eyes whenever they came to practice and played the game.
  • Work hard – There were days in which I felt like I was working two jobs.  I put in 100% at work then came home and worked on the lessons and plays for my team.
  • Never give up – My personal approach applies to my team.  I never gave up on them and continued to encourage them to try their best until the time runs out.  This resulted in winning 6 close games, five of which we came from behind to win.   Affirming that I believed in them was the first step in accomplishing our goal.
  • Keeping my composure – Throughout the season I kept my composure and never showed that I was worried.   I kept on encouraging my team to work through it and never waver.
  • Apply effective feedback – Whenever they made a mistake, I often encouraged them to reset and forget the mistake and focus on the next play or shot.    When a player was not playing well, I provided encouragement and engaged them in a one-on-one dialogue.

I’m truly thankful for the coaching opportunity.  I’m so glad that I took this opportunity.  I spent time with my daughter and formed a bond and shared an experience that we will share for a lifetime.    I will always remember this experience.    It reinforced my belief that I always have to seize the moment and make the most of the opportunity.   Go Crusaders!

 

 

 

Don’t stop believing

Will Lukang, CLDC, CSM, PMP

Growing up I lack the self confidence needed to succeed.  As a middle child, I was often compared to my siblings in term of academic accomplishment.  Unfortunately for me, I did not do well enough to earn any honors like my siblings.   I have to say that I was really proud of my siblings’ accomplishments.   They deserve every accolade and they certainly did great.

As years passed, the frequent comparison and discussions about my inability to perform academically started to affect me.  Even my family friends knew about my situation because my parents talked to them about it.   It is not like I failed to make the grade. Each year I did well enough to move to the next grade.    Truth be told, I did study as hard as I could, but the results did not match the effort.

During my junior year in high school, I met a teacher who believed in me.  She guided me and gave me the opportunity to explore and excel.   Each good test score help me feel good about myself and enabled me to trust that I could do it.  But it still took a lot of work and the difference was I believed that I could do it.   It was the turning point of my life.   She provided me the opportunity and gave me more responsibility to showcase that I could get it done.    As @TeresaAmabile (Is that right?) and Steven Kramer’s book titled The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work states, continuous progress is the key to improving and creating a good inner work life.  Each small win helps build confidence that enabled me to tackle the next challenge and build on top of the positive feeling that I had in accomplishing the prior goal.   

It takes a person to walk into our life and give us that hope to push the envelope and dust off ourselves and get back in the saddle and continue to pursue our dream.   It is the very reason I blog, mentor and coach others, because I want to pay it forward.

Looking back had I given up, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything.   Persistence and consistency are the keys to our success.   By seeing incremental progress, we can develop confidence that prepares us to take on more challenge; it helps us prepare for the next opportunity.   However, someone can walk into our life and trust and provide us with opportunity, but it all starts with believing in yourself and keep on believing that you can get it done.      So I suggest that you don’t stop believing and keep on fighting until you achieve your goal.   I’ll end my post by leaving you with music: Journey – Don’t Stop Believing.