Maybe I was spoiled because I grew up in Boston when I did. I was six years old when Larry Bird retired from the NBA.
My first memory is of me, standing barefoot on the shag carpet in my family’s living room, pointing Bird out to my dad on the television (or at least, pointing to the fuzzy collection of pixels that read “33” in green on our wood-paneled, dial-operated TV).
When I was a kid, Bird was God. He was living proof that the hustle is everything.
Larry Bird embodied the philosophy that I have applied to all of my endeavors thus far in life.
My father said it to me before every challenge of my youth, whether it was basketball game, a concert or book report: “You may not be the greatest, but no one can try harder than you.”
I was not the greatest, not by a long shot. Still, I hustled like Larry did. I hustled my way into the world, through the awkward humiliations of middle school, through the heartbreak and angst of high school, and once I got to college, I dropped that act as fast as I could pick up a beer bong. When I had an assignment due, I abandoned my vices until I finished what I had to do.
However, when college was over and I proudly received my degree (or whatever's in that envelope that's been on the shelf in my closet for the past six years), there was no more need to hustle. Like Larry, I had retired. It wasn’t so much that my back was giving out, but rather, there was no game left to play.
I had no more challenges. There were no basketball games, no concerts and no book reports. There were no more expectations, just a world full of promise and wonder that I had no clue how to navigate without a proper scoreboard and ticking clock.
So, I got a job. I worked every day for four years in an insanely competitive industry, but without a care in the world. I had retired from hustling. But, like it tends to for so many of us, that sh*t got old.
Eventually, I was miserable, and even though I was working for a creative team that makes quality, successful programming, I didn’t feel as though I was living up to who I wanted to be.
I was incomplete, and it wasn’t for lack of success; it was because I had removed myself from the game.
When I was younger and I had a challenge — a basketball game, a concert or a book report — I hustled because I wanted to give my all and be the best I could be.
Larry was who I wanted to be. But, the further I got from my point of retirement, the harder it was to get back out on the court.
As a creator, I had an idea. It was a big, bold ridiculous idea and without the help of some equally insane co-creators, it would never have been imaginable. It was a project of my own that would challenge me and provide reason to hustle again.
Within days, the exhilaration of this novel idea gave way to a deep, penetrating fear: Creating this project meant I would need to leave my job, the support of my friends, free breakfast and steady paycheck.
Looking back, two years later, I couldn’t be more thankful that I did leave the security of my job, sell most of my possessions and spend quite a few nights living out of my car. It led me to hustle again.
I was doing everything I could to make it. Like Larry stealing a pass, I would jump at any and every opportunity to get a win. It was an exhilarating time in my life.
Now, two years later, I’m fighting an uphill battle against a solid team, but I have possession of the ball. I may not be the greatest, but no one will try harder than I will. If you’re sick of not living up to who you want to be, change your game.
Photo Courtesy: Fanpop/Blow