Perseverance: life skills from the basketball court


I grew up in Indiana, so “Hoosier Hysteria” for basketball is more prevalent in my bloodstream than are red blood cells. As a graduate of Indiana University, it comes as no surprise to family and friends that I’m a huge fan of their men’s basketball team.

I knew this would be a rough year for the Hoosiers. The previous coach brought unprecedented controversy to this outstanding program due to infractions of NCAA recruiting rules. So the new coach really needed to “clean house” in terms of personnel and policies. It’s almost entirely new guys on the team, and most of these were freshmen walk-ons. I knew that this team wouldn’t necessarily be the most talented natural athletes. And, for their first season playing together, it would be a transition year.

With a school-record-setting eleven consecutive losses, I started to join the commentators in worrying that these young men would lose confidence and motivation. After all, we’re more than half-way through the Big Ten season and still no conference wins on the tab.

Still, I have marveled that both their offensive and defensive performances have clearly improved with each game. Their camaraderie as a team only grows. Their support from their fan base is growing too. They’ve just kept hanging in there! They’ve listened to their coaches. They’ve worked on their skills. And they’ve disciplined themselves to stay in the game until the final buzzer sounds and the clock stops.

Finally, on Wednesday night, their perseverance was rewarded with an 8-point win over a Big Ten team. You would have thought that we’d won the NCAA tournament for all the fan frenzy in the arena …. and in my family room, of course!

I’ve really been thinking about those young men this week. I’ve been thinking about how that perseverance and discipline and resolve paid off for them athletically. And I’ve been thinking about how these are life lessons that will serve them well off the court, too. Especially in the work world. I even noticed an article in a local paper today that highlighted these skills as essential for success in a job search.

In a turbulent economy, where jobs are scarce and competition for those jobs is fierce, exactly these life skills are needed for every job seeker. Discipline in pursuing leads, finding new avenues for networking, following up on contacts, developing new abilities that enhance your marketability. Perseverance in knowing that you do have valuable expertise to bring to the team, once you’ve found your new home court. Resolve in trusting that you’re not gonna let a few losses and closed doors diminish your confidence in yourself.

Note: Original link from the Kane County Chronicle is no longer available.

Republished with permission. Originally published by Elyse for her employee/job seeker blog in 2009.

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