Profitably Missed Shots
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
It happened a quarter of a century ago but is as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday.
The setting was the most prestigious and longest-running high school basketball tournament in Canada – the Luther Invitational Tournament, or LIT. It is hosted every year by Luther College High School in Regina, Saskatchewan where at the time I was an adjunct staff member. If and when the Luther Lions made it to the final game, the fervor in the over-packed home gymnasium was close to explosive.
Luther was in the championship game this time. They were one point behind with two seconds left on the clock. Herman, a Lion point guard and team leader, stood at the free thrown line with two shots. If he made one, it would tie the game. At least force an overtime. If he made both and with only seconds to go, Luther would likely win the game and the tournament.
Herman missed both shots and Luther lost the game.
A couple of days later the young man was at our home. Naturally he was a bit down in the dumps over the loss. During our conversation I asked him how he was handling the game loss and his part in it. After a lengthy pause he replied: “Builds character.”
Only a person who had already experienced a fair degree of character building would respond that way. Herman’s mental and spiritual constitution were such that he chose to view the event as a life lesson . . . something from which to profitably learn.
The quotes are legion: What matters is not that you get knocked down, but that you get back up. The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. Etcetera. Adages or not, the concept is solid. Hard knocks are part of life. One doesn’t have to cultivate them; they’re going to occur in one fashion or another. The key is an attitude that handles unfortunate, unwanted happenings as life-enhancing experiences which help prepare one for whatever else life might bring.
Over the years I have often thought of Herman at the foul line . . . and his subsequent attitude toward what happened. It has assisted me when experiencing hard knocks in my own life. I’d like to keep it that way.