Value(able)

Valuable

Basketball along with other group oriented activities have taught me many things but one of the most important lessons I have stumbled across thus far is understanding the word “valuable”. Valuable is a word that many use to describe objects of importance, but understanding how this word can apply to many different aspects of your life can be quite helpful.

Working in groups, similar to how you would work on sports teams, can be hard simply because there are roles that need to be filled at all times. Just like there can’t be too many superstars on the same team there can’t be too many leaders in a group; you need followers as well. With that being said, while every role is important every role is not created equal; they come with different levels of responsibility. These variations in responsibility can cause people to feel less or more valuable than the next person, and this is where the problem lies. When working in groups or on teams it is important to understand that no person is more valuable than the next. As my teammate once said, “To be valuable is to understand two things, that you are of value to the group and helping it achieve a common goal, as well as being ‘able’.”

Let me break this down.

Value: Just because you aren’t the leader of the group or the franchise player doesn’t mean you are less valuable then that person. While accolades may come their way more often, without you, achieving the common goal would be difficult. (i.e. Even Michael Jordan needed someone to inbound the ball for him; he couldn’t throw it to himself.) Often the accolades one receives seems synonomus to the value they bring to the group and how unfortunate that is? This perspective can be detrimental to its beholder, as well as the group because it can hinder one’s performance and more importantly their confidence.

Able: Speaking of confidence, knowing that you are able does exactly that; it makes you confident. “Confidence is key.” We’ve all heard this overused phrase before, but it has never been more correct. Knowing what you bring to the table allows you to showcase your abilities in the best ways possible.  Knowing that you are able is a personal realization; it is you believing in yourself, your preparation, and everything that has gotten you to the point you are today. Who better to believe in yourself than you? Who better to be confident in your abilities than you? Without confidence you are not able to reach your full potential whether that be taking care of your tasks or helping out with other tasks within the group as needed.

Knowing the meanings behind “value” and “able” are important to fully understanding the word valuable and how it can apply to your life. Being able is being confident, and being of value comes from knowing that you bring something special to the group.Though you might not have the most glamorous job, you will always be valuable. So next time you find yourself feeling less than remember that there is much more to being valuable than what meets the eye.

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Protecting Your Brand

Brand

I think everyone can relate when I say there are times in your life when despite how hard you try things still don’t pan out. How draining are those times when you write a paper a week in advance, but wait until the day it is due to print, and every printer you come across somehow has printing issues? How annoying are the times you put in the extra effort in your sport, coming early, staying late, eating, sleeping and breathing your sport, simply to have multiple poor performances or be benched.

It has happened to the best of us, and while that can be demoralizing and leave you defeated, in the words of Mother Teresa, “Give the world your best and it may never be enough, give your best anyway…”

When I was younger my AAU (travel basketball) coach always told my team to think of ourselves as a brand. When you open up a can of Coke what do you taste? Well, you taste Coke. But if you open up a different can of Coke what do you taste? You taste the same thing, the same Coke flavor. The reasoning behind this is because Coke as a company has developed a brand, the Coke brand. With every Coke bottle you open you are guaranteed the same level of excellence in taste. His point was that we should do the same on the court. Whenever college coaches came to watch our team play he wanted them to see the same brand of basketball, heart, hustle and intensity, that they saw in prior games. No drop offs, no let downs.

In my opinion, this same level of thinking can be applied to how you live your life. Your brand is what you show off to other people whether you mean to or not. It is your work ethic, how you carry yourself, how you treat others and much more. Ultimately, what you should want is to have a brand that is committed to showing off the same level of excellence despite your current circumstances. This means not letting one aspect of your life dramatically affect other parts of your life. Did you do poorly on the research paper you spent the last four weeks working on? Or not get the bonus you clearly deserved after diligently working for your boss this past year? As unfortunate as those scenarios may be, how you feel about that paper or the raise should not be taken out on others. More importantly, these events should not taint the effort you put into your future assignments or quality of work you put forth at your job. Why? Simply because, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” (Steve Prefontaine). The gift being the brand you have created for yourself.

No one is going to come up to you and say, “Hey, you’re sacrificing your brand” or “That’s not the same level of enthusiasm I saw the last time you did that assignment”. Your brand is something personal. It was self-created and needs to be self-maintained purely because you care enough about the effort and the products you put out for other people to see. With that being said, it is so easy to crumble when things don’t go your way, but it speaks volumes about your character if things do not go your way and you still continue to give the same effort if not more than you originally began with. My challenge to you is when things get tough make sure you protect your brand and give nothing less than your best.

Goals… Not Resolutions

Goals

New years resolutions. Let’s be real, the word “resolution” automatically means whatever you say will not last the entire year let alone through the month of February, so I prefer the world “goals”. You make goals for yourself throughout the year but I’ve never heard anyone say they are making a resolution in May or any other month of the year besides January. The word goal just takes the pressure off.

My goals for 2015 are:

1. Bugeting and Saving

Let’s just say I’m not the most frugal person you have ever met, especially when it comes to clothes or anything fashion related. I swear I have no self control! What was once on my “want-list” quickly creeps onto the list of things I cannot live without. This year I want to be able to spend but spend wisely and save for things that are important like an emergency fund. I’m not completely cut of from under my parents wings just yet but that day will come eventually and I’m sure the last thing they will want to hear is a phone call from me asking if they could foot a spontaneous car bill the next time it decided to act funky.

2. Eating Healthy

No no, I said nothing about dieting, losing weight, the list goes on. I said I want to eat healthy. I have never been much of an unhealthy eater but being a college athlete has opened my eyes to the the results you can get from positively and negatively fueling your body. My body is my temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), and in sports cases, my machine. You can’t fuel a Ferrari with regular and expect it to run like the champion car it is, so you definitely cannot do that with you body. I want to fuel right because I know I’ll feel better and perform better.

3. Read More Often

I’ve never been much of a reader, and I’ve honestly never been a good reader, but I want that to change this year. Though my time is limited I feel like people make time for what is important to them, and reading for pleasure is something I want to do more often this year.

4. Disconnecting From Electronics

I’m as much of an Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Netflix junky as the next person but at some point in time the social media needs to be turned off. This year I am setting times for when certain things need to be disconnected so that I can have more me time and focus on other things. For example, no more Youtube past 10pm. Instagram and Twitter can’t be checked passes 11pm (week nights only).

5. Shortening My To-Do List

Last year taught me that to-do lists can be helpful, but they also need to be reasonable. I’m not superwomen so I can’t put superwoman like expectations on myself. My to-do lists for the day will consist of no more than three things because truthfully that is about all I can get done in a day.

6. Reading the Bible/ Growing My Relationship With God

In my post from last week I talked about how I realized my true worth lies in God and how that has alleviated a lot of stress from my life. To say the least I have realized just how much of a difference God has made in my life and how much I need Him. I plan to spend time in his world every day no matter if it is just for five minutes or an hour.

7. Journalling

I bought a journal from Barnes & Noble that makes me answer one question every day. I’m not really one for sitting down and spilling out my life story and feelings every day but I think answering a question isn’t asking too much. Also, keeping up with this blog is a form of journaling in my eyes.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Shine

I love fashion, makeup, high heels, you name it, but if you actually know me, you know I rarely demonstrate my love for them. This year I want that to change. In the past I’ve been afraid to wear heels because of my height or get all dolled up because I honestly don’t like getting a lot of attention. This year I want to be pushed a little outside of my comfort zone so that I can actually reveal the things that I genuinely enjoy and hopefully reveal other parts of my personality.

9. Doing Things For Myself/ Taking Care Of Myself

Me time is important, and while I have never been one to skimp on it, I think that I can do other things to take care of myself. Treat myself every once in a while, for example, twelve years of basketball has done a number on my feet. Let’s just say the nail salons around here will be seeing a whole lot of me in 2015.

10. Become A Better Listener

I’ve come a long way. My mom did a great job of teaching me not to cut people off in the middle of their sentences, but one thing I need to work on is not forming my response to what someone is saying as they are talking. Instead, I actually need to give them my undivided attention and hear what they have to say. Also, when it comes to friends, sometimes it’s not about the advice you give, but that you were simply there to listen to them in their time of need.

11. God First, of Course, but Keep Family At A Close Second

Coming to college has allowed me to see just how important my family is to me. I’ve always appreciated them, but now more than ever I realize just how much their support means to me. From the extended hugs that my brother gives me when they visit or just being in my parents company and knowing that they care, I want to make sure that I make time for them and let them know how much they mean to me.

12. Being a Better Friend

I love my friends and my friends love me, but as we get older and move away from each other (attending different colleges) it gets harder and hard to maintain our friendships. I simply want to stay connected with them and check on them more often then I did this past year.

These resolutions goals were in no specific order, but these are just the things I want to work on in 2015. Hopefully I can achieve these goals throughout the year, but there are 12, so I can at least focus on one every month.

Clean Slate

New Year

With a new year comes the opportunity to change things in your life. Now don’t get me wrong, if you don’t like the way things are going in your life you have the power to change them at any time. But with that being said, I feel that the new year solidifies the idea behind a new beginning. The holiday season has finally come to a close and it gives you time to reflect on the year that has just pass, the good times, the lessons it has taught you and much more.

Well just like everyone else, I did exactly that and realized just how much I had learned throughout 2014. If anyone would have told me at the beginning of 2014 my year would be as trying as it was I would have laughed because the first five months could not have been more perfect. But like it always does, adversity set in and it decided to stick around for a lot longer than I had planned. For the next seven months I struggled, academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually. While wallowing in my sorrows was necessary for a while, I eventually started to acknowledge the lessons that were being presented to me.

There is a common saying that goes, “Lessons don’t go away until they teach you what you need to know”, and let’s just say I’m hard headed because my lessons stuck around for a while. If 2014 taught me anything it was these three statements.

1. Good things take time.

Whether it is friendships, relationships, moving up at your job, anything, it will take time, especially if you want it to be of substance and special. My relationships with people from first year to second year have changed significantly, partly because I know them better than I did before. Knowing someone is something you simply cannot rush. Time moves at the same speed whether you are wishing it away or hoping that it sticks around a little longer.

2. You can’t miss what is for you, and what is for you cannot miss you.

If only I knew then what I know now. I feel that a large part of my unhappiness last year came from trying to make something out of nothing. Wanting things to go my way that I was probably better off without having in my life. This statement reminded me that I can only rely on the timing of God and that He is always on time. Also, it helped me to remember that His plan for me might be different than the plan I have for myself and that He is planning great things in my life but He must prepare me for them before I can receive. (Proverbs 3:5&6)

3. When you realize where your true worth lies people’s opinions of you can be looked at as exactly that, opinions, not definitions of you.

I’m still defining this lesson myself, but here is the best way I can explain it. If someone showed you a $100 bill would you want it? Yes. If someone took that same $100 bill and dragged it through mud, tore it almost in half and had it sitting in the toilet of a public bathroom (gross I know) would you still want it? Yes. But why? You would want it simply because you know the value of a $100 bill. The bill does not lose it’s value simply because of what it has been through, what it looks like and its current circumstances. You are that $100 bill. You don’t lose value simply because of your less than spectacular circumstances and you don’t gain value because everything is working in your favor. You maintain your value because God created you that way and nothing worldly can take away from that. (Ephesians 1:4)

With all of this being said I hope that you all can take these lessons that I have learned and at least think over them. Lessons are meant to change your perspective and it is safe to say that mine was forever altered in 2014.