The year is 2011 and a young, tall and skinny kid just arrived to the states. He was coming to join a high school basketball team and had traveled all the way from Cameroon. He neither spoke English nor played basketball. He was a volleyball player with little to no basketball skills. Just 3 years later this unknown kid would become the 3rd overall pick in the NBA draft and later would be among the most dominant big men in the National Basketball League. If you haven’t guessed by now, his name is Joel Embiid and he plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.
New beginnings spark hope and are filled with excitement. Joel was hopeful that he would do well on the court, but reality hit home sooner than expected. His lack of basketball skills was soon exposed by more experienced D-1 athletes. He was ridiculed and a laughing stock during team practice. Soon after he was set to follow the path many other millennial's do, quit! The high hopes he had come with had been shattered, the dream was lukewarm. Luckily his coaches saw what he couldn’t and pushed him to stick to it. And stick to it he did, he practiced everyday and watched countless YouTube videos on how to shoot a basketball. He trusted the process however silly it seemed but it paid off. The once scrawny kid from Cameroon was battling on the world stage with the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. All this was possible because Joel did not cave in and accept his reality in the beginning.
“The first time an opportunity arises, there is hope of what could be. Your expectations (cravings) is based solely on promise. The second time around, your expectation is grounded in reality. You begin to understand how the process works and your hope is gradually traded for a more accurate prediction and acceptance of the likely outcome,” James Clear (Atomic Habits). Anything new is exciting since it has boundless hope, no wonder one spends their youth driven by hope. But soon after, without clear and precise goals and a plan, the hope declines and reality settles that this is the way life has played out. Hope is enticing and that way we tend to love the get rich quick schemes, or the instant weight loss program, or the scratch tickets because you could win big instantaneously, and the online dating apps where you could swipe and get a date on a moments notice. All things are based on hope, hope of what could be and what’s to come. But soon after with enough experience, hope diminishes and acceptance is what is follows.
The problem is not hope, the problem is being hopeful without a plan. Hope alone cannot help you achieve anything; it would actually do more harm in the end. Hope raises one’s spirits only to crash and destroy them if things do not materialize. What we can learn from Joel’s story is, to trust in the process. Hope is important since it gives you the vision of what lays ahead. Now, it is important to come up with a plan of execution on how to achieve whatever it is that got you to be hopeful. If an unknown kid could make it to the world best stage within 3 years with no prior experience, powered only by hope and a precise plan, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Always remember hope alone will not cut it; formulate a plan and make it happen!
As always stay Healthy and practice social distancing.