“What do you want to do? You wanna quit?”
The frustration and anger filled every open space of the locker room. Their undefeated season had just been ripped away with a gut-wrenching loss. It was make or break for the players wearing the Texas Western basketball uniforms and their coaches.
I’m talking about a terrific scene from the movie Glory Road which portrays the pivotal season when Coach Don Haskins led his Texas Western Miners to the NCAA National Championship in basketball. Haskins stirred up quite a bit of controversy by recruiting and playing a large contingent of African-Americans on his team. He used a lineup of solely African-American players to defeat Kentucky in the national championship game.
Taking Away Our Dignity
After the loss at the end of the regular season, we see the tension play out between the black players and the white players. The entire team had endured hatred and discrimination throughout their season, although each player saw the world through their own unique perspective.
“Coach, the more we win, the harder it is for us out there,” one of the players spoke up.
Coach Haskins responded, “What do you suggest we do? Lose?”
Another player Texas Western player chimed in, “They’re trying to take our dignity from us.”
“Your dignity’s inside you,” Coach Haskins replied. “Nobody takes something away from you that you don’t give them.”
Is It Worth It?
Is there something in your life that you used to find joy in, but no longer do? Have frustrations and stresses from the outside world stolen the fulfillment you used to gain simply from participating in an activity?
As educators, the vast majority of us chose to become teachers because we wanted to make a difference. Yet, teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates. Many of us question whether the sacrifices we make and the negativity we endure are worth it.
If you have let things outside your control rob you of your dignity and joy, you are not alone. But what can we do to rediscover the joy in an activity we love?
Look Deep Inside for Your Joy
For me, I gave away some of my joy as a basketball coach several years ago. I let the layers of wins and losses on the scoreboard, kids who seemed to be entitled, and parents who wanted their kids to be in the spotlight, rather than learn life lessons, pile on me.
I bought into what the world said about me. That I had to prove I was a winner by the results on the scoreboard. And I needed to drive my players to win so they could feel good about themselves. I carried the weight of those layers around with me and let it cover up my joy. When I bought into those lies, I was moving away from my true potential. And I also limited myself from giving away my gifts and abilities to the people in my life…the players on my team and my family and friends.
But deep inside of me that joy still existed. It wasn’t completely extinguished. Sometimes we just need to take a timeout, regroup, and remember why we began the activity in the first place.
We Can't Stop Life from Moving on the Outside
Brian Kight stated, “A losing mindset only enjoys winning. A winning mindset enjoys competing.’
The true meaning of the word compete is to strive together. To use the struggle and to use our teammates and our opponents to strive toward our purpose and making an impact by giving away our gifts and abilities.
One of the best things we can do to rediscover our joy is to take an internal timeout.
We can’t stop life from moving on the outside, but we can take a timeout for ourselves on the inside. Because if we don’t take time to pause and reflect, we can get lost on the conveyor belt of life and not truly understand where we are going.
We Need to Shed Some Layers
As we move on that conveyor belt, we often keep getting more and more layers piled on us. So when we take a timeout internally, one of the best things we can do is shed some of those layers which have piled on. When I think of someone filled with joy, I think of someone who isn’t carrying a huge burden. They have a lightness to them and a spring in their step.
But maybe you’re thinking…
“Yeah, that’s great but I have some really troubled kids in my classroom.” Or…
“I have some overbearing parents of kids on my volleyball team.” Or…
“I have a principal who has an extremely large ego and wants to make everyone else seem like they are the problem.”
For me, I was lucky enough to be fired from my coaching position. I say lucky because it forced me to take an internal timeout. To look inside of myself. To shed some of those layers and those burdens I allowed myself to carry. And to rediscover my joy and be more of the person who I truly am.
Because when I focused on trying to reach success according to what the world says, I stifled myself…my joy…my purpose…and my impact.
Give Our Joy Away to Others
So today I want to encourage you to take an internal timeout as you move on the conveyor belt of your teaching and coaching duties. Whether you have one thin layer covering up your joy or multiple thick layers, an internal timeout can always help us discover a greater level of joy in our work.
Not only can someone not take something from us that we don’t give them, but they can’t keep us from giving our joy away to others either.
When we enjoy the journey we are on, it will help us increase our impact on the young people we work with by giving them a better version of ourselves every day…