This month finds many people in the U.S. watching the March Madness tournament of college basketball teams (and that includes a couple of people in my house, too).
In honor of the college basketball players who are serious students as well as successful athletes, I am sharing today a revision one of my favorite posts from a few years ago. It is a profile of the exemplar athlete Steve Nash—a successful, astute, and articulate professional basketball player– who inspires many people, writers included.
This post ranks high in overall readership among all of my posts.
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I usually don’t watch professional basketball games because while the players persevere, for the most part they show little sense of fun, and the only passion I notice is an easily aroused anger. But I will watch Steve Nash, the point guard from Canada who has played on several NBA teams and is the winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.
When Nash plays, he shows both perseverance and passion. Not only is he fun to watch, but it seems like he is having fun, too.
He has been on many talk shows, such as the David Letterman Show. Nash is bright and personable, and on the Charlie Rose Show, Nash also revealed his leadership ability.
As I watched him being interviewed, I found myself wondering how does a 6’1” man, a self-described small guy, play in the midst of those very tall, competitive men with their sharp elbows and huge, muscular bodies. Regardless of how much money he earns, how does he stay committed during the training, the long season, the traveling, the pain from the inevitable injuries, and the endless tournament at the end of the season?
Nash knows what he has to do to stay committed. This is what he says:
1) Since he’s a small guy in tough territory, he is creative. He has to come up with new plays.
2) He is mentally tough. When he’s jostled or intimidated, he remains “unflappable” because he has decided that “nothing will bother” him.
3) He has no fear. Without fear, he can charge into the midst of play.
4) He doesn’t give up because he’s committed “to stay the course.”
5) And he does it because it’s fun. He smiles when he says that, and you believe that he does have fun.
What does Steve Nash’s unflappable strategy in the face of intimidation say to you, the dissertation writer? Here is what I think is the take-away for the dissertation writer:
1) Even when you feel you’re out-manned or losing ground, dig deep to find the courage to be fearless. Decide that you will not be intimidated.
2) Like Steve Nash in basketball, you did not get to this level of writing by being a non-starter. You were training for this long ago. You have everything you need to succeed.
3) Character matters. To be long-lasting, you work with both passion and perseverance. Some people call this grit or stick-to-itiveness. I also call it mental toughness.
4) Keep your commitment to your team—even if it’s just a team of one. Or add a coach to your team and have someone alongside of you who takes your commitment seriously.
5) And one more thing, Steve Nash plays hard and plays to win because the competition is fun. The fun keeps him engaged. You can make your work fun, too—writing is a challenge and challenges are exhilarating. Choose that perspective.
To stay committed for the long-term, even when the going gets tough, use your courage, grit, and mental toughness. Take risks and charge through tough places.
And then imagine how the wind feels in your hair as you run fast, dribbling the ball down the floor toward the basket.
Until next time,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
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