Some of you know that I was really good playing basketball back in high school and university, but there was one thing I was lousy at.
I couldn’t shoot freethrows.
I was like the Shaquille O’Neal on my team and the opposition usually figured that out pretty quickly.
If the opposing team was down by just 2, 3 or 4 points and they wanted to increase their chances of winning, they’d need to stop the clock. The best way to do so is to intentionally foul someone on the opposing team and hope that if the person went to the freethrow line to shoot baskets, they’d miss.
To guarantee that the person would miss, the opposing team would typically foul me because I couldn’t make my freethrow shots.
This went on for most of my Grade 11 year in high school (junior year if you’re from the US).
And then, I met Bill Butler.
He was loud. He was of generous proportions and he was brash. In all the months I played for him, he never wore anything more than a t-shirt and jogging pants.
And he knew how to pinpoint and correct bad habits so that his players looked great.
I was in Grade 12 (my senior year in high school) and I started to play for a team outside of high school. The name of the team was Raiders and Bill was the coach.
I’ll never forget what Bill yelled at me during our first practice:
“Girl, your freethrows are awful!”
That’s Bill for you. He never minced words. But unlike some who criticize with no solution in mind, Bill was a player fixer.
He worked with me during practice and after practice to help me improve. He told me how to hold the ball, what to focus on and how to tuck in my elbow so I’d shoot straight.
I remember his advice as if he were sitting right here next to me. He said:
“Girl, the only way you’ll make those shots is if you follow through.”
Follow through. Not only did I have to focus on the target, but I also had to make sure that my arm, my elbow, my wrist and my hand were in alignment. My shoulders had to be aligned, my feet couldn’t be too wide and my hips had to be square to the basket.
Then, when I released the ball, I had to keep my arm up, keep my fingers pointed towards the basket and keep my eye on the ball until it went through the basket. That was the follow through.
In other words, releasing the ball wasn’t the end of my responsibility. I still had to commit to the action until it was complete.
It didn’t happen right away, but my freethrow average went from 2 made shots for every 10, to 4, then up to 6, then finally, I was making 9 freethrows out of every 10 attempts.
I got better. And I owe it all to Bill. When I saw him years later, I thanked him for his guidance. His response? “Girl, you were bad.”
In most things, people give up way too early, for example:
- You start writing a book, but never print it. So, what could potentially bless others stays hidden in your journal or computer.
- You write down all your goals for the new year, but then, you don’t look at the sheet of paper again EVER.
- You start recording audio for an information product, but then stop before you finish due to boredom or some other shiny object that caught your attention.
- You start your plans to launch a blog, but when it comes time to hire a programmer, you make excuses.
- Insert your unfinished project here…
In her book, The Follow-Through Factor, Gene C. Hayden says that following through on a goal and being committed to it are one in the same. In fact, Gene says that “commitment is the body of your idea, follow-through is its legs.”
Following through is your commitment to get your goals done. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it is so. You have to put your thoughts into action and follow through until it’s complete.
The apostle Paul said in James 2:20 that “faith without works is dead.” In other words, you can believe all you want, but if you don’t take action, you might as well consider your ideas worthless.
If you need help sticking to your goals and staying on track, click here to download free copies of Charlie Gilkey’s Free Planners.