December 16, 2013

Dedication + Determination = Destination

Luol-Deng-Lead-PicMost people will say they want to succeed in something in life.  Maybe they’ll have a dream, a long-term goal or just a strong desire to either move from where they are, on to where they want to be.  From the outside looking in, many of the things we say we want in life look good and seem as if they would improve our lives in some way and perhaps make us happier.  There certainly isn’t anything wrong with daring to dream for something better in our lives.

The question is, when does a ‘dream’ become a ‘goal’ and move out of fantasy into reality?  When do we shift our focus from thinking ‘it would be nice if I could…(fill in your blank)…’ to ‘I’m going to…(put that same blank right here)’?

In life, you CAN have anything you want, provided you are willing to do the work, however you can’t have everything you want.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything, because true success comes from ‘mastering your craft’ and being a qualified ‘expert’ in your field which demands your time investment if you really want to be successful.  However, if you focus in on what it is you really want, above all else, and commit yourself fully to pursuing that goal, it is only a matter of time before you will achieve what it is you set out to do, providing you follow this very simple formula:

Dedication + Determination = Destination

Successful people will tell you, when deciding what it is you want to go after in life, to choose something you are passionate about.  This is because they understand the number of hours it really takes to become a ‘master’ of your craft.  It’s been estimated that it will take at least 10,000 hours of your time for you to become an expert in whatever it is you choose to do.

With basketball, 10,000 hours is equivalent to 6 hours of practise, 6 days per week, every week of the year for just under 5 and a half years.  That’s a lot of practise – which is why you need to be sure you are passionate about the game before you decide you want to dedicate yourself to becoming one of the world’s best.  If you decide it is something you want to do, be clear that you’ll be spending most of your time practising and playing basketball while many of your other friends are hanging out and doing other things.  It takes sacrafice and dedication and it’s not easy, which is why there are so few truly ‘elite’ players at the very top.

The only thing that will keep you dedicated for the necessary amount of time is your own personal determination.  What motivatesdraft-lottery you?  How deeply does it motivate you?  To reach the top, understand there are millions of basketball players across the globe who probably want the same thing you do – is your determination stronger than theirs?  Are you willing to put in more time than they are?  One day, if you commit to your goal, you will likely meet other players who are going for the same spot you are and it will come down to how strongly your desire and determination have been able to keep you dedicated on a daily basis towards achieving your goals.
You’ve got to be driven.  You have to find a deeper rooted motivation that refuses to lose and is willing to endure whatever it takes for you to get to where you want to be.

We always use the great example of Luol Deng, Britiain’s best ever player who made it all the way from Brixton to being an All-Star forward for the Chicago Bulls – universally recognised as one of the top 24 players in the entire world.  Luol completed an improbable journey that the statistics would suggest should never have happened.

While certainly talented, as a youngster Luol was not the most physically gifted athlete in London playing basketball.  There were other players who were considered to have better ‘raw talent’ than Luol, however nobody back then could ever have truly measured the depth of motivation and drive he had inside.  It would be easy to dismiss much of Luol’s success to him being ‘lucky’ to have the opportunities he has had along his way to the top – but to do so would be to miss both the lesson and the reality of his journey.

If you trace Luol’s basketball journey, the one true consistency you’ll find is his work ethic, dedication and determination are second to none.  He has simply outworked his competition at every level he’s played at and has been driven to continue to achieve more.

Luol lives in the gym, and is always working on strengthening his game.  As a youngster, while others were hanging out, or relaxing, deng7_050721Luol was busy working on ways to get better.  He invested in his game each and every day, so when the opportunity came for him to impress and make the jump from Brixton to Blair Academy, he was ready.

When he got to Blair, he played on the same team as another future NBA player and highly regarded talent, Charlie Villanueva.  It would have been easy for him to settle for being a ‘good player’ on that Blair team, behind Villanueva, and be content with earning a decent scholarship to go to college, get his degree and transition into ‘regular’ life.  However, Luol’s drive was about being the best he could be and not only making the NBA, but being amongst the best once he got there.  It was his drive that got him up each and every morning while at Blair for workouts before school in the early hours, and kept him in they gym after practise – always working to improve.

Luol earned ‘All-American’ status while at Blair, which recognised him as one of the top 20 high school players in the country and was eventually ranked as the second best player in all of America, only behind Lebron James (who could go down as the best player of all time once all is said and done).  Highly recruited by all the major colleges, he decided upon Duke University – arguably the top college basketball program in America, giving himself another huge challenge to meet, if he was ever to succeed in such a pressured environment.  However, Luol’s immense belief in himself and his skills, which have been naturally developed from the tens of thousands of hours he invested in himself on the basketball court, drove him forward with confidence that not only could he survive at Duke, but he would indeed thrive.  When you do something over and over and over again, it ultimately becomes ‘second nature’ to you and your confidence in your ability to do it upon demand grows beyond anything you could ever imagine.

Once in college, Luol was simply sensational at Duke.  As a rare freshman starter, he averaged 15.1ppg along with 6.9rpg –  leading the Bluedevils to the NCAA ‘Sweet 16’, while displaying the most complete set of skills of any freshman in college basketball.  In just one season, Luol rose from being a highly touted high school player to being considered a NBA draft first round ‘lock’.

Luol went on to be drafted with the 7th pick in the first round of the draft, by the Phoenix Suns who then traded him on to the team who had their eyes set on him all along, the Chicago Bulls.  Since joining the Bulls, Luol has been their most consistent performer and best two-way player over the past 9 seasons, regarded by many coaches and general managers in the NBA as one of the best wing defenders and all-around players in the entire league.  For all of his hard work, Luol has been rewarded as a two-time NBA All-Star, recognising him as one of the biggest stars on one of the top teams in the NBA.

Behind all the success, Luol is still deeply driven and determined to get better and remains the most dedicated British player in the history of basketball, as evidenced this season where he is averaging career highs in points (19.6ppg), assists (4.1apg) and rebounds (7.1rpg).  There have been some outstanding British players over the years, but nobody has been more dedicated and determined to succeed than Luol Deng.  Luol is the perfect example of where drive, work ethic and dedication can lead you if you commit fully to your goal and are willing to put in the hours and hard work necessary to be the best you possibly can be.

Connect With Us

Reach & Teach aim to change the game for the better and we're driven by values that we believe build well rounded, positive, confident young people both on and off the court.