You are too big to play small

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After the fifth consecutive scoreless game, Coach called his star player into the office for a heart to heart talk. When the player arrived, Coach could see a look of frustration, disappointment, and doubt on his face. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” the player said. “I’ve lost all my confidence.” Before he could continue, Coach stopped him and said the words that would completely change the player’s mindset and become the turning point in the team’s season.

“You have lost confidence because you’re playing small,” Coach said. “You’re trying to be what everyone else expects you to be instead of being what you expect to be. You are too big to be playing small.”

For some reason, the player had forgotten he was one of the best players in the league. He had forgotten how unstoppable he could be when he was laser focused. He had forgotten that the team’s success was dependent on him playing at his very best.

But, it was during that moment, Coach reminded his player of something we all forget at some point in our lives, and it’s that we are much more capable than what we tend to believe. When that happens, we usually conform to the expectations of others instead of living up to our own.

I spent a long time playing small because I did not know what I was capable of achieving. In addition to that, fitting in seemed more appealing than standing out.

I knew there was greatness in me, but I let obstacles and the negative influences of others stop me from seeing what was on the inside. As a result, I was underachieving and abandoning my true self.

Maybe you have forgotten how amazing you are. Perhaps life has beaten you down so much that you really believe you are meant to be average. It may be hard to see yourself raising the bar and reaching your potential.

I get it. I was there once before. But, my life changed when I started to believe in the power I possessed and when I realized others were counting on me to become who I was supposed to be.

You have a wealth of talent and ability inside of you. Now, it’s time to discover it, release it, and use it to achieve greatness because you are much too be big to be playing small.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Despise Life’s Detours

Bold black and orange detour sign with wispy clouds in summer sky background.

It was the right path, and no could have convinced me otherwise. Since I was 11 years old, winning an Olympic God Medal had been a dream of mine; and every minute of every day, I dedicated myself to reaching that goal.

But the path I was traveling down came to an abrupt end due to an undiagnosed condition that severely weakened my muscles and coordination.

That was the first detour I experienced in my life. Throughout the years, I have experienced many more detours that altered my plans and sent me down another path. But I have learned to accept life’s detours as a blessing and not a curse, regardless of how disappointing or inconvenient it may have seemed at the time.

Years ago, I had a close friend who experienced a bad break up with his significant other. He truly believed this was the one for him and he was making plans to pop the big question to her.

Then, the unthinkable happened when his phone rang, and all he could hear was crying on the other end. About 15 seconds of silence passed before my best friend listened to the words that crushed him.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t do this anymore,” she said. The break up nearly caused him to give up on love, but less than a year later, he unexpectedly met a young woman who was new to the area. Today, they will be celebrating four years of marriage.

Often, we view detours as negative. However, detours are literal and figurative signs that we are supposed to go in a different direction. That new direction may not be a path we expected or a path we choose. But if we learn to embrace life’s detours, the new route just might be filled with the things we need most instead of the things we want.

Don’t Lose Your Stuff

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As the professor looked across her lecture class filled with at least 100 students or so, she uttered words I would never forget. “This is the most important thing I will tell you. Don’t lose your stuff.”

Everyone looked around and wondered why this professor would say something so basic, so simple, so common sense to a room full of college students. From a very young age, we all learn the importance of being responsible and keeping up with your personal belongings.

As the professor expounded upon her comments, I started to understand the metaphor a bit clearer and it all made perfect sense to me. Fifteen years later, the words carry even more significance as I live out my mission of inspiring young people across the world.

My professor knew something back then that I have come to learn over my years of working with young people. Many things will get lost along the journey in life, but you can’t allow circumstances, or trials, or adversity to stripe away the things that make you unique, creative, optimistic, and passionate.

What my professor was essentially saying is that you can’t lose sight of the greatness you possess, no matter the test. I believe we have a lot of young people who have lost their stuff for various reasons.

If you feel like you have lost some things along this life journey, I encourage you to go get it back, because it may be the thing that elevates you to a new level and brings forth your greatness.

Connect before you correct young people

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With every dropped pass, every lost yard, and every missed tackle, the coach grew more frustrated. The breaking point came when the opposing team returned a punt to the endzone, making the score 32-0. As his group of dejected players ran off the field, the coach gathered the team before they could reach the sideline.

What shocked me was not the tone the coach used to call out his team’s effort. The shocking part came from witnessing each player’s response to their coach’s motivational tactic. One player threw his helmet while the other one walked to the locker room. As if the things could not get any worse, the coach began arguing with one of his players on the field.

During my time working with young people as a coach, mentor, educator, and speaker, I came to understand a valuable lesson: one must connect before they correct.

While the coach erupted and his team imploded, he seemingly forgot about the golden rule of working with young people

I failed many times at trying to get the best out of young people because I was asking them to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself.

If you are someone who works with young people in any capacity, it is a rewarding experience, but one that can be quite daunting, especially if there has been no solid foundation of trust and reciprocity established.

Before you call a play, give an instruction, hand out an assignment, make a request, or demand anything from a young person, make it a priority to connect with them first.

Failure to do so could lead to a result in an experience like the coach who not only lost the game but also lost his team. Remember that every person needs their heart to be reached before their mind can be taught because the old saying is true, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

the coach grew more frustrated. The breaking point came when the opposing team returned a punt to the endzone, making the score 32-0. As his group of dejected players ran off the field, the coach gathered the team before they could reach the sideline.

What shocked me was not the tone the coach used to call out his team’s effort. The shocking part came from witnessing each player’s response to their coach’s motivational tactic. One player threw his helmet while the other one walked to the locker room. As if the things could not get any worse, the coach began arguing with one of his players on the field.

During my time working with young people as a coach, mentor, educator, and speaker, I came to understand a valuable lesson: one must connect before they correct.

While the coach erupted and his team imploded, he seemingly forgot about the golden rule of working with young people

I failed many times at trying to get the best out of young people because I was asking them to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself.

If you are someone who works with young people in any capacity, it is a rewarding experience, but one that can be quite daunting, especially if there has been no solid foundation of trust and reciprocity established.

Before you call a play, give an instruction, hand out an assignment, make a request, or demand anything from a young person, make it a priority to connect with them first.

Failure to do so could lead to a result in an experience like the coach who not only lost the game but also lost his team. Remember that every person needs their heart to be reached before their mind can be taught because the old saying is true, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

 

 

Pioneer Your Path to Greatness

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When the boy told his mentor what he wanted to do had never been done before, his mentor responded by saying, “Sometimes you have to chase the dream before you create the path.” What the mentor was essentially saying to his mentee is that there will be times in your life when you have to pioneer your path, times when you will be the only one who believes in the dream you’re pursuing.

On this day in 1870, Hirman R. Revels of Mississippi was sworn in as the first black U.S. senator and first black representative in Congress. I can’t imagine what type of negativity and backlash Revels received when he pioneered his path. Regardless, it wasn’t enough to stop him from making history.

I had to pioneer my path when I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. Perhaps you have a dream calling you, but there is no path showing you the way to get there. Don’t let the unknown deter you or discourage you. It just means you have to be the one to chase the dream so that you can create the path. That’s how pioneers are born, and that’s how you make history.

Develop a Finish Line Mindset

3As I laid on the ground, face firmly planted into the worn out black top, the thought of staying down there never crossed my mind. The embarrassment of falling 20 yards into the 100-meter race was also inconsequential. I just wanted to finish the race, and within seconds, I was back on my feet fighting through pain and a range of emotions to finish the race.

Little did I know that experience as a 5th-grade student at Emmanuel Christian School would become something that defined the rest of my life. I’ve had plenty of other moments where I found myself in a position similar to the one I was in on that spring day 25 years ago.

But, every time I have had a face-in-the-ground moment, the idea of staying there and giving up on the race has never been more significant than the determination to get back up and cross the finish line.

Throughout the years, I’ve come to understand that the real victory is finishing the race, not just running it. There are many things can trip us up, knock us down, and make us even consider staying in that position. No matter how tempting it is to listen to that voice, turn up the volume on the one that is pushing you and reminding you of the reward that awaits you at the finish line.

You’ve come too far to give up on your race. Develop that finish line mindset and get your reward, because victory is within your reach.

A Letter to Dr. King

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Dear Dr. King,
 
I write this letter on a day created to honor your life and legacy. There are so many who have stood and continue to stand on the shoulders of a dream you risked your life to achieve. We still grieve over the act of hatred and violence that stopped you from seeing the mountaintop. But more importantly, we celebrate, for we know your tragedy was not in vain. It created an uprising, sparking the flame of generations who refused to remain silent. Thirty-three years after first being recognized, we are proud to say this holiday serves as the realization of your dream to integrate a segregated nation.
 
You would be 90 years of age, and I can still hear your voice turning the pages of history, beckoning us toward justice and encouraging love and unity for all of God’s children. Amid your activism and prophetic work, you received threats. Despite it all, you continued the mission with no regrets, refusing to leave town or back down and be quiet. In the face of that evil union known as racism, you persisted with the spiritual perseverance to hope, dream, pray, protest, mobilize, organize, litigate, and advocate. You were fearless amid unsung causes and unrewarded sacrifices.
 
We have made strides, but we are still far away from the America you longed to see. As you did, I am keeping hope alive, trying and failing only to keep on trying, even if it means becoming unpopular and risking it all. You taught me that one could not stand if he is unwilling to fall down and pray for a divided land. Believing for a brighter day is something I can, I will, and I must do because my dream is to make sure your vision endures and continues to shine through.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jason A. Dixon