In this Season of gift giving – what if you could give a gift that kept on giving?
Maybe it would be “The Gift of Challenge.”
What does a world class archer with no arms and an NBA Champion have in common?
They both were given the gift of challenge.
As a coach, as a leader the best thing you can do is challenge your team members to achieve their highest level of accomplishment. Here are 2 questions that hit the bullseye of that target.
Matt Stutzman’s adopted parents and Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) from Duke gave the gift of challenge, and it propelled both of our subjects on a journey to their highest achievements.
Who is Matt Stutzman? This is what he says about himself on his twitter account. “I’m a Paralympic silver medalist and world record holder and did i mention i do everything with my feet.” (the lower case letters are probably because he tweets with his feet.) The Paralympic website said he is “ever-inspirational ‘Armless Archer’ who shoots using his feet.”
You may have never heard of him. But he is a remarkable man with some amazing accomplishments. All were achieved without the use of his arms. He was born with no arms, and there is no medical reason for this anomaly. His biological parents put him up for adoption and his adopted parents made no accommodations for him. His adopted parents told him he would have to adapt to the world, because the world would not adapt to him. As a child he had to do the chores just like his other siblings. His parents didn’t give him a pass.
He got married, had 3 children, but couldn’t get a job. Mired in depression because he couldn’t provide for his family, he got an idea. Maybe he could use his feet and a bow and arrow to hunt deer. And he succeeded! This newfound purpose gave him hope that he could contribute to his family’s survival.
Then a friend said “Hey, you are pretty good, you should enter an archery tournament.” He did and placed somewhere in the middle of the pack. Not awful, but not great.
Then a bow supplier gave him a sponsorship, and this led to his leap to greatness. A friend said to Matt “do you know why they gave you a sponsorship?” Matt said “No?” His friend said, “It’s not because you are good, but because you bring attention to their product.”
Matt decided he didn’t want to be given a sponsorship, he wanted to earn it. So, he rededicated himself to the sport, and became a world record holder and a Paralympic silver medalist. All because a friend gave him a challenging question “do you know why they gave you a sponsorship?” That question changed his life and set him on a path to pursue excellence. He holds the world record for the longest shot to a target over 930 feet.
My question to you is simple: Isn’t that your job as a leader to challenge your team members to their highest level of achievement? To help them reach beyond their grasp.
The second story is about Shane Battier an NBA world champion and the question that transformed his career.
Shane Battier a NCAA National Champion and an NBA World Champion in basketball. He wrote the forward in the book “Coaching Up! Inspiring Peak Performance When It Matters Most” by Jordan Fliegel. In that forward he tells the story about being recruited by Coach K of Duke University. In his recruiting conversation with Coach K he shared that many coaches offered him the opportunity to start as a freshman. Coach K told him that as a coach at Duke he didn’t decide who would play, the players did. And then Coach K gave him one of the most challenging questions of his life. Coach K asked, “are you mentally tough enough to accept the challenge?” Shane knew he was good enough to play Division I basketball. The question was could he reach his full potential at the University of his choosing? He says that Coach K pushed him harder than he ever thought possible, but that was the foundation of his greatness. But he also said Coach K pushed him with love as the foundation. Without being challenged to reach his full potential he may never been an NBA champion or a NCAA Division I National Champion.
My challenge to you is what questions can you ask your team members to challenge them to reach their full potential? Do you know why you got the sponsorship? Do you have the mental toughness to accept the challenge? Both are great questions to ask. What questions can you ask to get your team to excellence? That is my gift of challenge to you.
Merry Christmas! Now you can’t say I never got you anything. Enjoy the Holidays.
Note from Bob: You will want to check out Rory’s Podcast entitled “Coaching for Potential.”
References for Matt Stutzman’s story:
References for Shane Battier’s Story
“Coaching Up!: Inspiring Peak Performance When It Matters Most” by Jordan Fliegel
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