You never find out if you have staying power until you’ve been beaten down a few times – Bill Parcells.
Undrafted But Undaunted
It was NBA draft night in 2015 and among the draft hopefuls was Christian Wood, a UNLV sophomore who expected to be taken in the first round. By the end of the night, all 28 NBA teams had passed on him. Woods, who had gathered with his family in a hotel suite ready to celebrate, was distraught when he learned the NBA questioned his work ethic and did not draft him.
Then Wood decided to fight and prove he was NBA-worthy. He took the hard road. His wake-up call happened after signing for a team in China, only to be waived off the team before he even played a game. This dark moment became a turning point for Wood. He came to terms with the small, but glaring weaknesses like punctuality and lapses in concentration during practices overshadowing his talent. Wood remained undaunted and chose to work on his game despite the numerous rejections. As Wood worked, his breakthrough moment finally came.
The Detroit Pistons took a chance on Wood and his work ethic coupled with resiliency was evident as he showed tremendous improvement during the 2019-2020 season. Wood, now a mainstay with the Houston Rockets epitomizes staying power. Where many would have folded, Woods kept pressing in the right direction. His story also reveals the most important ingredient of staying power.
What is Staying Power?
Staying power is the capacity to continue in the right direction without wavering or weakening in the face of strong opposition. Wood kept getting the door to the NBA slammed in his face. The rejection from multiple teams stung Wood, who wondered if he would ever play in the NBA and be able to provide for his family. We all suffer from bouts of doubt when things don’t go according to plan. We wonder, “Am I good enough?” Will I ever succeed in _____?” “Will another opportunity ever come again?” “Will things get better?” “Can I make a difference here?” Unchecked, these questions can consume our fizz for life and steal our determination to continue pressing forward. Doubts stagnate us and even make us go back to what’s comfortable and familiar. Having staying power builds resilience within that extinguishes the flames of doubts that arise in our lives. Woods knew his destiny was the NBA and therefore stayed the course.
Knowing your heading is crucial when navigating obstacles on your path. When a ship leaves a port it always has a destination in mind. As the waves beat against the boat and other ships are at sea, the ship’s original heading is a reminder of its destination. People who do not have a heading in life are more prone to quit in the face of doubt. Do you have a heading for your life? If you do, the opposition you face along the way may slow you down but like Wood, you will eventually arrive at your destination.
The Most Important Ingredient
The capacity to continue is the most tested aspect of staying power. I believe there is a price to pay for any action that enhances our quality of life. The obstacles we face make us wonder if the price is still one that we can afford and if it is worth it. Looking at the cost in terms of the opposition should never overshadow the benefits or outcome of pressing on in the right direction. How do we keep this capacity to continue intact?
This capacity does not emerge out of a vacuum. It is marked by conviction. Without the ingredient of conviction, staying power becomes non-existent. In addition to a destination, Wood had a conviction that with hard work he could make it to the NBA. A conviction is a strong belief deeply rooted within us. It grips us and never lets us go. Why is conviction important? Because life has detours, unpredictable events which divert us from our expected course. With conviction, a detour is nothing more than a different path to get to your purposed place.
Christian Wood’s path to the NBA was filled with detours. Conviction gave him focus, clarity, and certainty that if he pressed on, he would arrive at his desired place, the NBA. Detours don’t need to have the final say in our lives. In fact, they can be opportunities to learn and grow. This was Wood’s experience. Through the detours, he matured. He pruned the weaknesses that were impeding his talent and acquired the discipline needed to not only get into the NBA but become a major contributor to his team, the Houston Rockets. Conviction gives us the capacity to continue without wavering or weakening. For it to be useful, conviction must be converted into action and proper conduct. As you face detours in life, do you have a conviction that can stand up to doubt and repeated exposure to disappointment? Can it keep you believing and moving in the right direction towards your destiny?
Final Thought: The story of Christian Wood is a reminder that dreams come with detours. A straight path is ideal, but it should not be expected. Life doesn’t go as planned. In the face of daunting opposition, we can proceed with conviction to our destiny. Do you have staying power?
Keep on Keeping on!