SerenDestiny #30: What Can we Learn from an Underdog Who Pursued His Passion?

“Ask people, ‘What is your passion?’ and they often freeze. They feel they have to give an amazing answer, like ‘feed the orphans of the world’ or “write a novel that changes the landscape of literature.’ Or, they may feel ‘I don’t know’ isn’t an option.” – Dan Pink

Are you a NCAA Final Four fan?

If so, you’re familiar with the underdog success story of the VCU team that finished fourth in its own league – but somehow got into the NCAA tournament and surprised just about everyone (except the coach and players) with their rise to the semi-finals.

One of the many interesting aspects of this story is the leadership displayed by Coach Smart – who turned down admission to Yale, Harvard and Brown to stay in the Midwest and play for Coach Bill Brown at Kenyon in Ohio.

Smart is among the 10 youngest head coaches at the Division I level

Smart is among the 10 youngest head coaches at the Division I level

As quoted in this fascinating USA Today article (http://www.usatoday.com/)
his professors at Kenyon perceived him a “thinker, an intelletutal, driven.” They were eager to put him on a track to a Ph.D. and weren’t particularly pleased when he chose instead to follow his first love – basketball.

As Smart’s former faculty adviser Peter Rutkoff says, “Initially, there was a sense of, ‘Gee, why is he wasting his talent? But he’s not. He is USING his talent.'”

As Steve Wieberg reports in his insightful article, Smart took his basketball everywhere. . . “to the library, the cafeteria, to classes. His teammates used to tease him about sleeping with it. He was always working on his game. He wanted to make sure, if there was an empty basket, he had his ball.”

Smart said he initially went to college to “make his mother happy and proud. “But what happened was a beautiful thing. I found a subject I really enjoyed and classes I loved. And all of a sudden, I started learning beause I wanted to. And I no longer needed that drive my mom had instilled in me.”

Smart, who graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon, went on to become one of 19 students selected for the 1999 USA Today All-USA College Academic team.

As his mentor Coach Brown says, “He was like a sponge. He soaked up everything. He’s a trememdous role model . . that if you prioritize and take care of business, anything is possible.”

There are many SerenDestiny epiphanies in Coach Smart’s journey.

1. Doing what you love is not wasting your talent. It’s using your talent.

2. Part of committing to your “first love” means constantly keeping your eyes on the ball and your antennae up for the “empty basket.” This alerts you to opportunities that make you better and move you forward.

3. When you put your SerenDestiny stake in the ground, (decide to pursue what’s meaningful to you); your life takes on a momentum of its own. You no longer have to drive yourself, your passion provides its own incentive.

4. When you become a sponge and absorb and apply everything related to your business, you accelerate that business.

How about you?

Do you want to pursue your passion – but people are telling you it’s a waste of your talent?

Could you instead be clear that using your talent is what you’re born to do?

Could you be clear that when you have the courage to you put yourself in the game you’re born to play – you set your SerenDestiny in motion?

What’s your answer when people ask, “What’s your passion?”

If you don’t know – and if you’d like to know – join us May 9 for a tele-interview with Sam Horn as she reveals what she’s discovered in her hundreds of interviews with people who love what they do.

Contact us at Cheri@SamHorn.com with “SerenDestiny interview with Sam Horn” in the subject heading and we’ll send you call-in instructions.

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