When I was little there was a book and a song about the Little Engine That Could. I realize the intent was to eliminate negative self-talk. But AA has taught me to question the philosophy of I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
Let me give you an example. My father was a Hall of Fame girl’s basketball coach so I naturally believed if I gave up everything in the pursuit of the game, that I could eventually be, if not the best, one of the best outside forwards in the state of Iowa.
I began my quest for an All State title in the elementary grades. It was easy to put in the hours as I tagged along with my dad to the gym on the weekends, first rebounding for the All State post forward, Dianne Frieden, then cheering for the team as Valley of Elgin won the state championship in the early 60′s. I remember the week we spent with the team at Des Moines in the regal Fort Des Moines hotel… the telegrams of encouragement and praise from all over the state… the radio interviews Dad gave after every game! There is a picture from the Des Moines register of the big celebration banquet and guess who’s sitting at the end of the table—me in my 5th grade plaid dress and dumpy sweater!
Dianne went on to become a Look magazine All-American and played for the USA against Russia.
After Diane graduated, I rebounded for Fayne Triem, an inspirational success story. She was a victim of rheumatic fever but trained by herself running in a horse coral at night and shooting in the gym after school and on weekends. I rebounded for her, too. At State she scored 196 points in four games—the third highest in the history of the tournament. (Fayne visits my blog from time to time.)
By junior high, we had moved and there was another amazing post forward, Ellen Mosher, one that I practiced with every day after school and rebounded for on weekends! The team ended up with a runners-up title and Ellen was also on the All State team and went on to be the head coach of UCLA Bruins women’s basketball team and played on the 1977 AAU Women’s All-America Basketball team.
Back to me. I was on that train track. On the right track to becoming outstanding. Certainly no one had put in more hours on the court or taken off-season (what’s that?) training more seriously. I went to bed early, ate right. Working out was a way of life I never questioned. I was pretty much a dead-eye from the corner just like I’d planned. Everyone agreed I was coordinated, fast in track and on the court, skilled in ball handling beyond my years… (and you can feel the but coming)
In junior high I think I can… I think I can… I think I can was still working — except for the fact I had to use a two-handed shot to get the ball to the basket from the free throw line! No amount of training could make my puny muscles any stronger! It just wasn’t in my genes and neither was an All State position.
I was on the wrong train track.
It would take AA to show me the antithesis to I think I can… I think I can… I think I can.