I was on my high school’s varsity basketball team playing as a guard. “Playing” is probably a bit of a stretch as I was not a starter. I rode the bench a lot. I usually got in the game when we were far enough ahead or when it was clear there was no hope for a win.
Looking back I realize that I could have had more opportunities to play. I was fast, a solid defender, and had a pretty good shot. My coaches were constantly encouraging me to step up and coaching me on the physical and mental aspects of the game.
I have since realized my major problem was really a mental one. In the games, I was afraid to miss and generally would pass the ball to someone who I thought had a better chance of scoring instead of taking the opportunity myself.
Understandably, this was not helpful to our objective to win and I didn’t get the opportunity to play as often as I would have liked. Back then it stung a bit, today I’m grateful for the learning opportunity.
I have found in my career that the most successful people understand this basic axiom: it’s better to be reined in than pushed. This is really just another way to describe accountability. A successful person sees an issue or opportunity, takes ownership of it, solves the challenge, and then takes action.
I’ve seen talented people sitting on the sidelines and never really in the game because they are waiting for someone to give them permission to play or are worried that they might make a mistake. In my experience, it’s better to get on the field and go for it and have a coach or leader pull you back a bit than to have to have them push you all the time to perform.
You have talent. We all do. Discover yours and then play to your strength. Get on the field and experience the thrill of victory and the disappointment of defeat. That’s really what life is about. Go ahead and live a little more.