Photo credit: Flickr
If I told you that there was just one thing you could do that would give you everything you want, would you do it? Well, all you have to do is believe! All that matters is that you can see what you want and believe in it with all your heart and soul.
Michael Jordan owns many cars and most of them have special license plates. It was the night of the first game of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals; Chicago was playing the Indiana Pacers to see which team would go to the Championship. Michael and I were getting into his Ferrari, leaving the house for the game.
I looked at the license plate and couldn't figure out what it meant. It read "MJ5." I asked him what the MJ5 stood for. He looked at me and said, "Michael Jordan -- 5 championships, fool."
As we drove, listening to the music he had selected to help relax him before the game, he suddenly looked over at me and said, "I have MJ6 on order already." He didn't say it in a cocky way. He just really believed that it would happen. Few people believe that strongly and still fewer work hard enough for their beliefs to reach fruition. He did win that sixth championship. How much do you believe?
Once in a high school game I was at half court and I saw one of my teammates, Edlo Peoples, cut under the basket and hold up his hand. The game was very tight and people were on the edge of their seats. It was late in the game and we needed a basket. I passed the ball to Edlo, or at least I tried to pass the ball to him, but it went in the basket. The crowd went wild. I overheard the referee say, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
Hearing this felt like a vote of confidence. It made me feel like I could do anything on the court. I heard something positive and I used that to fuel my thought process. I never forgot what that referee said, and it always reminded me that I could get the job done no matter what.
What does "self" have to do with believing in oneself? Self to me means how a person sees him- or herself without the all the frills. Who do you see each day when you see yourself in the mirror? Is it someone you like and are pleased with? The dictionary defines self as "one's own person apart from all other persons." Your self is you. Who you are can only be summed up as to what you are from the core.
When you are in touch with this core self, you can listen and hear more easily what is best for you. As long as you are honest with yourself, you will always make the right choices. When I graduated from high school I had scholarship offers to attend many different universities to play basketball. There were colleges that offered large sums of money. For a guy who didn't have much money, this was quite a temptation. My high school coach thought I should go to a school that had a chance to win a National Championship, and I agreed with him. Along with education, this was one of the topics we discussed when we considered colleges.
I chose a college that didn't offer anything but the chance to play basketball and get an education. All things considered, I'm sure I made the right choice. I listened to my inner voice and did what felt right. I've never looked back, only forward. We never won a National Championship, but we did win the National Invitational Tournament in New York City during my junior year. I got a great education and met some wonderful people who are still friends today. If I think about the other offers, I realize that I passed up a lot of money; but if I hadn't gone to Maryland, I might never have found the path that led me to Nike, to my family, and to all the other things I have today.
Even if you've made some bad choices, as long as you are honest with yourself it's never too late to turn the ship around. You are the only one who really knows who you are inside and out. Listen to yourself and do what is best for you.
We all are who we are.
I am who I am just as anyone else is who he or she is. I don't rob from other people's heritage but I draw strongly on mine. The only reason I put this subject in the book is because some young people have been made to feel ashamed of who they are. Particularly young people of color -- who, as the descendents of slaves, sometimes feel ashamed and insignificant.
This book isn't about the color of anyone; it is about everyone feeling good about oneself. Let no one rob from you who you are. Accept who you are; there is nothing more important than being yourself. None of us had a choice in our racial design. Don't let being black or white or orange or gray hold you back. Draw your strength from those who have gone before you. Be a witness to their strength and courage. Blacks are the descendants of kings and queens from the motherland; our people were Pharaohs, scribes, and builders of the monuments of ancient Egypt. Successful people of all cultures are too numerous to list. I'm sure you have many heroes to look up to. These people didn't have it easy in their struggles to reach the top rungs of the ladder. What their tales should tell you is that it was difficult, but it can be done.
Identify whatever it is that gives you strength and follow that vision to the ends of the universe. Be strong in who you are and be diligent in your quest. You don't have to look to history to find a hero. You can look to people in your school, to the mail carrier, or to people in your community who are doing the right things. You don't have to be some big star in the minds of others to be a big star in life. Just live your life in a positive way and be an example for others to follow. Being a person of color or being white is not an excuse to not put your best foot forward. Being poor or rich is not an excuse either. You are who and what you are, and you need to work from there.
Imagine the reaction I would get if I told someone who was homeless that there was a background check done on him and he wasn't the person he thought he was. It had been discovered that he was taken away at birth from his parents who were people of royal descent. In other words, he wasn't the person that he thought he was; he was royalty. I bet that person's entire perception of himself would change. The person would probably stand taller and start to think of himself as someone special and someone who had great potential. In the same manner, the person would probably look at himself differently and, therefore, behave differently.
Now bear with me for just a second, because I'm going to skip to something heavy: It is stated in the Bible that we are all children of the Most High. This means that we are all children of God, which means that we are all princes and princesses. We are all of royal descent. It's just that we don't see ourselves in that light, nor do we carry ourselves in that manner.
Why shouldn't you be royalty? You have a divine right to have all the best things in life. If you shouldn't see yourself like this, who should? All the good things are waiting for you if you simply change the way you see yourself. What's holding you back? It's easy to say that this is a fairy tale and not how things work. Well, you'll never know if you aren't disposed to thinking this way. When Dr. Leedy told me I was the second most gifted person that she'd ever seen after Bill Cosby, should I have disputed her or chosen to see myself in that light? I choose to see myself in that light. You should see yourself in that light as well!
After the "Dream Team" won the 1992 Olympics, Charles Barkley was in his best shape ever. He was playing with all the superstars in the NBA. He played with the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, John Stockton, Chris Mullen, Scottie Pippen, and Karl Malone. We traveled to Japan right after the Olympics, and Charles was playing like I'd never seen him play. His confidence was sky high; it lasted the entire season, and he believed that he was the best in the league. That season he became the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the NBA. His team went to the finals of the NBA Championship and he played very well.
Believe you can fly, and do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true. Are you willing to work hard enough for this to become a reality? Some people are willing, while others think that it will just fall into their laps with no work at all. The latter is very risky, but if you're reading this book, I'm betting on you.
Life is meant to be lived to its fullest. From this day forward, see yourself as someone special and someone who possesses special powers and great strength. If you see yourself as a child of a higher being, you will never have anything to fear, and you will develop much more strength, wisdom, and courage -- the courage and strength to face any problem head-on and win!
When no one cheers for you, cheer for yourself. You can be your own best cheerleader in life. When you fall, don't be ashamed; just get up and brush yourself off. It's OK to fall or to fail; just get up and start over again. Mrs. Bolling kept me back in the second grade. That wasn't the end of anything; it was only the beginning. I just got to start over with Mrs. Vaughn. Like MJ says with the title of his book, "I can't accept not trying." So, strike up the band!
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. ©2003.
Believe to Achieve: See the Invisible, Do the Impossible
by Howard White.
Sometimes we need a hand to help us get to the gifts locked inside us. Believe to Achieve is that helping hand, daring readers of all ages to reach for their most cherished dream and giving them the tools to get there.
A star in high school and a standout point guard for the University of Maryland, Howard "H" White was an NBA draft pick until knee injuries put a stop to his basketball career. Undaunted, Howard put his other skills to use, eventually finding his way to Nike, Inc. Now vice president of Jordan Brand, "H" has been with the company for twenty-five years. With Nike's support he founded the "Believe to Achieve" program, an innovative traveling seminar designed to encourage youth to believe in themselves and adults to mentor them. A tremendous, charismatic public speaker, White's passion and excitement for life moves adults and children alike.