michael jordanTime for “The HA!!” – This is my mini-series on life lessons I’ve gained through my humbling sports endeavors… I LOVE sports but genuinely suck at most of them, and, therefore, I’m a “HA = Humbled Athlete.” Please check out the other posts in this series at THE HA!! page.

My dose of humility in the sport of basketball came at the tender age of 12. I loved to play this game and tried out for the Junior High School team in Vero Beach. I didn’t make the team, and was offered the equipment manager position.

If you’re wondering what the equipment manager does this person basically was in charge of rounding up the basketballs and sweaty towels for the team during practice and games. I traveled with the team for the away games and sat with the coaches and team… I sat with those players that were on the bench anyway. I got really good at “bench dribbling” and at spinning the basketball on my finger. So good, I can still pick the ball up and give it a whirl.

When I first decided to take the equipment manager job I was sort of embarrassed. I thought to myself… why? Why should I do this? The coaches encouraged me. I thought, this seems dumb! The coaches were persistent, they cornered me in the hallway at school and asked me in such a way that it seemed like an honor. It seemed silly because I was the only one doing it, and my other friends who didn’t make the team just went about their lives and did something else.

I found out much later that this was an important lesson in humility. Here’s why:

  • The equipment manager was a servant. This was a role of helping other people with little expectation of anything in return. I looked at this as an opportunity to help other people reach their goals. That made me feel good about myself.
  • I was able to overcome the one thing that seems to keep people from being humble… my sense of pride. Remember, my first thought was “this equipment manager thing is dumb!” It seemed lowly and embarrassing. I did it anyway, and found out quickly at an early age that having an ego is much more embarrassing than being humble. (Click To Tweet)

“Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well.” Warren G. Lester

So how did God turn this situation for my good? Well, in addition to learning the primary lesson of acceptance, and about my ego/pride plus how to be a good servant, I got a bonus!

Interestingly, the coaches saw my good attitude and gave me something in return that they really didn’t have to: they let me practice with the team. Think about it… now I was able to practice regularly with the best players my age. Through that experience my basketball skills grew and I was able to significantly improve my game. A paramount life lesson: If you want to learn and grow surround yourself with the best players in the game. (Click To Tweet)

My basketball career… as the equipment manager. And my valuable life lesson in humility… and acceptance.

Have you found acceptance to be an important part of humility in life?