Today in my Toastmasters club, I was asked a question: Which teacher most inspired you? I could tell you about many teachers in my life. Some taught me new concepts. Others helped me master new skills. Yet, the teacher I remember most was one who inspired me to reach beyond my limited thinking.
My eighth grade math teacher, Mr. Mike, also happened to be my basketball coach. I remember his lesson on the court more than in the classroom.
I wasn’t a great basketball player, but he pegged me to start one of the games. I was excited and a little nervous with the opportunity. On game day, I came down with an excruciating headache and upset stomach. I really thought I was going to become sick.
“Mr. Mike, I can’t start. I really feel awful,” I said, barely able to keep myself upright. I just wanted to go lie down in a dark room.
“I need you to start,” he answered.
“I can’t. I’m really sick.” My head pounded in unison with every bouncing ball on the court.
“You’re going to start,” he said again.
The coach was crazy. Didn’t he understand that I WAS SICK! Did he really want me to puke on the gym floor? That would be embarrassing. More than embarrassing, it would be humiliating.
I got into the game and lined myself on the circle for tipoff. The ball came my way, and I grabbed it and passed it to a guard. I ran down court to get into my position as forward. I became so focused on the game that I didn’t think about my head and stomach anymore. And in an instant, my illness vanished.
I learned that day the power of our mind over our bodies. We are capable of so much more than we realize. Sometimes, it takes someone prodding us to step outside of our limitations to reach our greatness. Not that I magically transformed into an amazing basketball player, but I realized in that moment that I could reach beyond my limits. A whole world of possibilities were out there, if I only had the courage to take a chance.
Ever since that basketball game, I have never been afraid to try new things and challenge my self-imposed restrictions. We are all blessed with so many opportunities in life if we have the courage to go for them.