I played a lot of basketball growing up. In my teens, my life revolved around 3 things: School, video games, and basketball.
For my school work, I wasn’t the brightest nor studied the hardest. I did enough to get by. For video games, it was all about having fun. But when it came to basketball, it was about bragging rights and earning the respect of my peers. At that age, nothing seemed more important than that.
I so wanted make the varsity basketball team that I spent hours honing my skills, playing pickup games, and trained like crazy. But for the first 2 years of high school, I just wasn’t good enough to make the team. In hindsight, I didn’t spend enough time working on reading the game and moving without the ball, but that is for another discussion altogether. In my 15 year old mind, the only reason why I was cut was because I was not athletic enough.
Then one day, I saw this glorious ad in one of the “Slam” basketball magazines (it was back in 1996 when internet hasn’t taken over all aspects of our lives.) which I used to read cover to cover several times. And here it is: the ad looked something like this.
It was more than 20 years ago, but I can still remember the excitement I felt when I saw the ad and how the promise of adding the extra 5 to 10 inches to my vertical jump. That very night, I dreamt of taking flight and dunking a basketball with ease.
I don’t remember exactly how much it costs, it must have been between 90 to 120 US Dollars, which was a huge amount of money! Well, to make a long story short, I skipped lunch for a few weeks and saved up my lunch money.
I can still remember how carefully I filled out the mail order form (remember, this was before internet shopping), clipped it off the page of the magazine, stuffed my money order into the envelope, and mailed it off. A few weeks later, it came in the mail. I put it on, trained my ass off following the program. And it absolutely worked.
It added 5 inches to my vertical jump. I went from barely touching the rim even with a running start, to grabbing the rim with both hands from a standing start without having to take a step. I made the varsity team the very next year.
Here are a few things that I learned from this experience:
#1: If it is important, we will always find a way to pay for it
The 100 dollars or so required for the shoes were an astronomical amount for me at the time. I grew up in a household where we did not get allowances. My parents figured they are already providing everything that I can possibly need to be successful in school, so why give me spending money?
Was it hard for a 15 year old boy going through a growth spurt to give up lunch and save the money instead? Of course it was, but I wanted to make the Varsity team THAT much. And it absolutely helped. Because I had to make a substantial investment, I made sure I followed the instructions and get the most benefit out of it.
#2 Investing in self-improvement works
It is more than just about saving up that money. It is about understanding that I needed help and finding a way to reach out for help.
Could I have added inches to my vertical jump without the $100 jump sole? Sure, all I needed was some plyometric training and strength training that I could have easily done at my school weight room. But did I have the knowledge to actually make it happen?
It doesn’t matter whether I needed the special shoe or not, what it did for me was giving me the structure and focus that is required to get results.
Now here is the thing. I have never told anyone about these jump soles.
I didn’t want my peers to think that i worked HARD to get these results.
#3 We have this unhealthy belief that working hard for something is uncool
Where does this belief even come from? We all need to stop with this insanity right now. Why is it so hard to accept that, YES, I worked hard for it.
Yes, my success is not a coincidence.
People who tell you that you can be healthy, fit, and lose a few pounds by just following this ONE WEIRD TRICK are flat out lying or delusional. I have helped hundreds of people to achieve long term weight loss success and maintain a high level of health and fitness and I can tell you, it takes discipline, hard work, and an investment of your time.
Success is never effortless.
How I wish I could have talked some sense into 15 year old Min-ju that he needed to tell ALL his friends, teammates about the jump soles and invited all of them to train together. Not only would 15 year old Min-ju have achieved even better results due to the friendly competition, he could have also made the entire Varsity team into a better squad.
And who knew how the course of history would have been different?
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