Saturday, August 20, 2011


We have read and shared stories about amazing athletes that overcame negative opinions of coaches at an early age.  Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neil and Bob Cousy were all actually cut from their high school team.  From comes another story from Mike Zimmerman on another of sports greatest who had to dig past the opinion of a coach:

When David Beckham was 13 and dreaming of playing pro football (soccer to the Americans among us), one of his coaches said the magic words: “You’ll never play for England because you’re too small and not strong enough.”

As Beckham told me, the coach wasn’t joking or trying to be ironic. He meant it. And young David was devastated. Temporarily.

It occurred to him, even at 13—or maybe because he was 13, since adolescent rage can carry you far—that he could re-dedicate himself and prove that coach wrong. “As much as I was upset at the time, it made me think, Well, I’m going to prove that I can play football professionally,” he says. “Back in those days there were a lot of people who thought to be a player in England you had to have a full-grown beard and be big enough to kick the ball as far as possible. It’s changed now.”

Beckham helped change the thinking. Even though he wasn’t the biggest man on the pitch, his speed and uncanny scoring ability helped him become one of the great players in the history of the game—and one of the most popular athletes in the world. Captain of the English national team for six years, he collected more than 100 “caps,” meaning he played for his country more than 100 times, an honor few players have achieved.

Stories like Beckham’s are always interesting to us—maybe because it’s fun to root for the underdog (though no one thinks of Beckham as an underdog today). Maybe because we have an innate desire to see people proved wrong. But when does a story like this become more? When do you make it your own?

All of us have had someone tell us we can’t do or be something we dream of doing or being. Maybe it was a coach, teacher or family member. But these days, the person telling you that you can’t achieve a dream is more likely the one person you absolutely must have on your side: you.

Henry Ford said something similar: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

Here’s an interesting exercise: Every time you hear that big voice in your head (there are no little voices in our heads), think of it as some frustrated, ignorant coach telling you you’ll never play for England. Get angry. Get motivated. Then get moving.