There's a moment in all of our lives that define who we become. I've been lucky enough to have a few of those moments, but one in particular shaped me, growing up.
7th grade, Dos Pueblos High School gym, Saturday morning:
It's late in the fourth quarter, we're winning by one point, and Todd Ewing, my rival, is flying down court on a fast break. The only thing between him and the basket is my defensive skills. He faked left, went right, but I was quicker. I remained on balance, waiting for him near the hoop. He was headed directly at me, full speed ahead. If he scores, they take the lead with little time left on the clock. As he got closer, now moving even faster, I hesitated. He actually looked a little out of control. I remember thinking, "Crap, how am I going to stop him?!" This hesitation was all he needed. Instead of jumping in front of him and taking the charge, I let him go to the basket, untouched, scoring the go-ahead layup.
The crowd went crazy, but all I could hear was my dad yelling at me from the sidelines. "Take the charge! How could you let him go by without any effort?! Take the charge!" My dad wasn't the unathletic father that didn't have a clue. He knew exactly what he was talking about. He excelled in all the major sports, including basketball. He was a fighter on the court when he played, and there was no way he was going to allow me to be any different. At that specific moment of my life, as I let Todd casually dribble by me, and score an easy layup, it was no longer about basketball. In my dad's eyes, this was about effort, toughness, and a mindset that wouldn't settle for less.
I'll never forget the drive home. He preached like never before. He wasn't spitting fire, telling me how useless I was. Rather, it was simply a disciplined reminder that we, in life, and on the court, never allow an opponent to "score" without a fight. "Make them earn it," ringed in my ear. This 15 minute speech was titled, "Your last name is Gingrich, and don't ever forget it." Gingrich was synonymous with fight, tough, and fearless. His son was going to learn how being fearless would affect the rest of his life ... and dad was going to teach him on this car ride home.
That moment changed my basketball career forever. Prior to that game, I was the All-Star point guard, averaging 22 points. Post "You're a Gingrich" speech, I became the toughest, defensive stopper on the court. I still got my points, but I also took pride in stopping the opposition's best scorer. I quickly learned that effort was always in my control, and could be a determining factor in the outcome of every game. My scoring fluctuated, but my determination, passion, and effort never would.
As I developed my teaching style, this 7th grade layup, and my dad's willingness to show me some tough love, became my base. Never again, would anyone dribble by me without a fight, on or off the court. My 1% philosophy was born on that day!
Settling for less is failure. Take the charge.