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“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, Michael Jordan.

Simple, straight to the point and true. It’s not rocket science, the latest leadership theory from Harvard Business School or some deep spiritual insight from a personal development guru. What it is though, is most definitely poignant, thought provoking and worth reflecting on. When I have reflected on this quote from the great Michael Jordan it has taken me back to my childhood and to a specific memory which has lived with me ever since.

A ball in a field
Take the shot!

I have learnt so many lessons from this particular memory; about myself, about life and about the immense and often untapped power of our thoughts. I was never a star footballer at school. I had my moments of greatness but they were far outnumbered by much longer periods of mediocrity! On this particular occasion I was playing my standard left midfield role which, as a 99% right footer, seemed like a puzzling choice by the team coach, but hey. I remember the ball coming towards me just inside our own half, taking control and attempting to get past a few players but failing on first attempt. Undeterred I was determined to try again at the next opportunity. That opportunity came along quicker than I expected, literally within a minute. I stopped the ball with my head and trapped it at my feet. Looking up I could see the route through. Time seemed to slow, almost to a stop. From the side-lines a shout out came from one of the older boys in the upper year, ‘go on son, you can do it’. The force of empowerment from this supportive, encouraging, believing statement was like a rush of pure confidence filling my entire being. I ran forth, beating about 4 or 5 players and suddenly found myself with a shot at goal from about half way between the 18 yard and 6 yard boxes. Internal flow momentarily let the external voices in; ‘over here’, ‘shoot’, ‘pass it’. With a clear shot at goal I decided it would be better to pass to a teammate near the corner. I passed, he fluffed a cross, and the moment of magic was over. I missed the shot that I never took.

A wall with the words believe in yourself
Becoming positively optimistic and with a growth mindset

Probably the main takeaway from this experience has been the power of belief. For quite a long period in my life my confidence and self-belief was fueled by feedback, encouragement and support from external sources, and I relied on this. I relied on this external validation for a significant portion of my self-belief until I realised that not only did I have the capability to fuel my own fire, but that it was my responsibility to do so. Through various personal development opportunities (including coaching) I have developed a sense of ‘trust’ in myself and have created positive mental habits which in turn create enough helpful thoughts to far outnumber any negative ones. This helps to keep me grounded, positively optimistic about all things life and regularly feeding my growth mindset with a love of all things learning.

Thinking back to that fateful football game and wondering what would have happen if I’d taken the shot isn’t so much the point as recognising that amazing things can be achieved when your fire is lit, especially when you learn how to light it yourself!

“My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge and aggressive to learn.” - Michael Jordan

Paul Emslie

By Paul Emslie

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