Friday, April 26, 2013

Paper Backtime: Jay Walking The Walk

When I saw Jay Bilas's Toughness: Developing True Strength On And Off The Court at the bookstore, I had some reservations about whether to plunk down for a hardcover.

After all, I don't think there's an author I would know any better. I suppose I could have made a call or sent an email requesting a complimentary copy, but that would kind of go against the premise of the book. The "tough" thing to do would be pay for it, read it in its entirety, and offer feedback in a public forum.

Maybe Jay can reimburse me in beverages sometime down the road.

This is a motivational/self-help/basketball book, so there's some messaging here that may come across as re-purposed. I pictured a Rick Pitino clinic I attended as a teenager, crossed with a Tony Robbins infomercial. But there truly is a lot of thought-provoking stuff that you can use in any phase of your life.

Bilas's point is that toughness is more mental than physical. It's not about withstanding pain or being fearless, as much as it is doing what's hard and embracing the challenge that comes with it.

From the basketball end of things, I especially liked the segment about talking on defense. Any player can get locked in on his/her individual task, whether it be smothering your man or shutting down your section of the zone. But what takes toughness is to be "responsible" to the task, yet "accountable" to the team. We are all "tougher together" than we are individually.

And that all starts with communication, staying connected and helping the four other guys on the floor to achieve the collective goal on each defensive possession.

The chapter titles are what you'd expect from a book titled Toughness: Trust, Courage, Persistence, Resilience, Self-Evaluation. But Chapter 6 stood out to me, a chapter called "Next Play." It is a philosophy ingrained in Bilas and any Blue Devil from Coach Mike Krzyzewski who said, "You have to be tough enough to move on, whether the last play was good or crappy... Next play is the absence of fear of failure. You have moved on."

Bilas applies 'next play' to his experiences as broadcaster, lawyer, husband, father or weekend golfer, "Instead of staying angry or self-satisfied about the last play - neither of which leads to positive outcomes for the next play - those two simple words focus my concentration and improve my chances to be successful."

I have often applied that to my own life, that my most important assignment is "whatever comes next." It could be picking up and moving around the country, autism, divorce, economic setbacks, demotions, or the positive equivalency of any of those things. There's nothing more important than whatever comes next. I even caught myself shouting, "Next play!" to my son on the soccer field.

Maybe I'm tougher than I thought.

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