That’s how good I want to be. I want to be so good at what I do that someone asks me to give a TED talk. In case you are unaware of TED, it stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. You can watch a lot of TED talks online by going to ted.com. That website is also where I found some of the information used here in this paragraph. I really enjoy listening to and watching TED talks. Some of my favorite talks are:
- Arthur Benjamin: A Performance of “Mathemagic”
- Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds
- David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 minutes
- John Wooden: The difference between winning and succeeding
- David Gallo: Underwater astonishments
TED talks are a great way to gain knowledge in an area of expertise other than your own and to learn new ideas about life in general. The people who present at TED conferences are the best in their field. They are the ones that ask the best questions and the ones that come up with answers to other people’s questions. They are well-respected and looked up to in many fields, not only in their area of specialization.
So what would I give my TED talk on? Well, I haven’t gotten that far yet. I would like to think that I am developing a unique and personal perspective on life and basketball. This is my perspective, based on my experiences, my beliefs, my strengths, and my weaknesses. If we say that basketball is a microcosm for life, then I would like to think that what I have learned and what I have taught and will teach as a basketball coach will entail many life lessons. Maybe my talk will have a title that is a play on words, having to do with screening, rebounding, scoring. I don’t know. Maybe I will be asked to give a TED talk after winning a national championship, or after coaching a winless season. Maybe I will give a TED talk on losing with dignity or winning with grace, or living with autism. Maybe I won’t even say the word basketball, although I highly doubt that. Maybe my TED talk will be about Legos. I have no clue.
I do know that people who give TED talks are motivating, inspiring, and make their area of specialization applicable to the whole world. People who give TED talks are achieving great things. They are the world’s best LEARNERS and they manage to teach others about life.
I do know a couple of things that I would say in regards to teaching others about life:
- Everyone has a story. Walk a mile in their shoes. This is really hard to apply in those situations where you are on the phone with a telemarketer or you have a student-athlete that you just can’t reach. Remember that everyone has a story. Just like my perspective is based on my experiences, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses, so are the perspectives of the people I engage with every day. Even that jerk that cut me off on the interstate.
- Everyone can serve. Serving others has got to result in the greatest feeling in the world. Spending the day with the kids in a special needs classroom, coaching at a youth clinic, or even taking deliveries for my dad’s pharmacy always leaves me feeling more fulfilled than when I started my day. I don’t only get that feeling saving the world, in fact, I never have done that. Sometimes, I feel it the most in the smallest acts. Hold the door open, pay for the order behind you in the drive through, take time to listen to others. Time is never an excuse for lack of service.
- Everyone has value. Respect the universal value of humanity. We were all created in the same way (and I’m not about to argue with anyone one way or another on that subject). We all have worth and value and substance. We all breathe the same air and have the same basic needs. No one individual is worth more than anyone else and no one individual is worth less than anyone else, ever. “Never look down on anybody, unless you are helping him up. (Jesse Jackson)”
- Don’t use the R word. That would be “retarded” if you are unaware. It perpetuates negative stereotypes. It is disabling. I think it is quite similar to using the N word. Decades ago, the N word was an acceptable word to use if you had the right skin color. Now, it is considered inappropriate and socially unacceptable. Similarly, the R word used to be an acceptable word in the medical profession. Like the N word, the R word now carries a negative connotation that implies that individuals can’t achieve or don’t have the same value as others. Words like these limit dreams and they limit people, and it isn’t right.
I’m sure between now and the time that I am actually mature and have a clue as to what is going on, I will have changed some of these, added to my list, or maybe deleted some (but I don’t think that last one is likely at all). Each of these things in my numbered list are unique to my perspective and my experience. I am sure there are people who would disagree with me. Maybe the overarching theme of TED speakers is that each of them made an impact. They made a positive impact somewhere before they were asked to give their talk. That is the coolest part. That they made an impact in their field, in their community, in the world, in the lives of others. Basketball coaches have an opportunity to make an impact. We all do. I hope that we would all use our opportunity to benefit others.