From the time I first picked up a basketball to the day I finally decided to call it quits, I participated in countless basketball camps. Anytime you attend a camp, there is always a keynote speaker who comes in and addresses the group. He imparts wisdom of basketball and life upon them. I sat at center court in many gyms listening to numerous speakers share their beliefs on what it takes to become the best. After years of commitment and hard work, I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by several camp counselors to be that inspirational keynote speaker for their camp. They wanted me to share with their camp them how my passion, experiences, and adversity through life provided me an opportunity to play basketball at Michigan State and beyond.
Whenever I finish a talk, I like to leave the campers with something to remember. Sometimes I ask them who wants to go on and play basketball at the next level. A majority of them raise their hands. Next I have them look at the people sitting around them, informing them that each person sitting near them is their competition. He or she might be trying to reach the same dream. As they continue to look around at their friends and teammates, I ask which of them is working the hardest right now, and they continue to size each other up. Finally, I educate them on how roughly 500 other camps are going on at this exact moment and kids at each of those camps are thinking about the same question.
It doesn’t matter if you are the best or hardest working person in your group of friends, on your basketball team, or in the entire school. There is always going to be someone out there willing to work harder than you. Right now you might be the best iPhone app developer in the world, but someone is out there working 20 hours a day so he or she can gain a competitive advantage on you. Constant improvement and learning is required in all professions. Never stop getting better.
I saw Coach Izzo one day and thought he looked like he had lost weight. So I asked him, “Coach you look skinny, are you trying to lose weight?” He looked back at me and said, “Timmy, I have a choice of eating or sleeping and I have to get a little rest.”
He determined that he only had enough time to fit one of those activities into his work schedule based on how many hours he spent trying to make his team better. Now that’s what I call constant improvement.