“If you are not making mistakes, then you are NOT doing anything!” –John Wooden

By: Drew Maddux

Think about that…the greatest basketball player to arguably have ever played on this planet gave credit to making mistakes, losing, and failure as a reason to why he was driven to succeed. When we think of Michael Jordan, we think about the shot in Cleveland, the six 3-pointers in the first half in NBA Finals, the take off and slam dunk from the free-throw line in Chicago, or the walk-off shot in Utah, giving the Chicago Bulls their 6th championship! You may also think about the shot, in the Superdome in New Orleans, over a stretched hand of a Georgetown defender as a freshman, giving legendary Head Coach Dean Smith and the North Carolina Tar Heels their first National Championship. When we think of Michael Jordan, you think of SUCCESS. You think of GREATNESS. You think "I want to be like Mike" (Remember that old Gatorade commercial).

Yet, when Michael Jordan was asked about success, he pointed to life’s best learning moments of making mistakes, losing games, missing shots, and experiencing failure as the reason he was able to achieve. He learned at an early age when he was a freshman at Laney High School in Wilmington, NC that being cut from the varsity team was not the point—the point was about response and not allowing that moment to define you.

So…let me ask you WHAT ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT? WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN? You could miss. You could lose. You could be shot down. You could make a mistake. You could make a bad grade. None of these outcomes could ever define who you are and what you are being created to be! The seed to greatness lies in the first step out of your comfort zone and being willing to take a risk and being OK with making any mistake you may make. Nothing great was ever decided, accomplished, created, or changed inside of a comfort zone. The first step to BE GREAT is to stare fear in the face and say “NOT TODAY!” My identity is not tied to my performance or the outcome or any single event. I am so much bigger than that! I am so much more than that! I have so much more to offer than that!

How many interviews have you heard at halftime of big NFL football games or NCAA March Madness basketball games or the pre-game show to any game you have ever watched on TV that reference the quote, “The team that makes the least amount of mistakes will win this game.” I can not stand to hear coaches or announcers say that because, basically, what they are saying is that the team is going to play from the paradigm of FEAR and not be FREE in their approach. Having heard that in locker rooms my whole life as a player, as well as well-respected coaches say that on television, I promised myself that if I ever coached a team or led a business unit, I was going to encourage my players or co-workers to attack that moment with FREEDOM and not FEAR.

Greatness is not about an outcome. Greatness is not about achievement. Greatness is not tied to success or even winning. Greatness is about stepping into the arena and staring your greatest fears in the face and being willing to take a risk regardless of what may or may not happen. Greatness is not worried about the need of a safety net or a Plan B or even knowing where your next step may take you. Greatness is about the process of becoming your truest and best self and the self-realization that the win or the loss, making or missing the shot, or even getting the trophy or not has no bearing on your personal greatness value. You are great because you were created that way! You have something the world needs, and you were the only one created that can contribute that as a blessing to the community where you live, work, and play.

“If you are not making mistakes, then you are NOT doing anything!” So, get up and shake off whatever is holding you back and start doing something awesome that only you were created to do today!

Drew Maddux was a four-year starter for the Vanderbilt Commodore basketball team and, since 2017, has been the Associate Head of School Advancement at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville. Drew is passionate about developing leaders around the message “Be Great, Do Good.” His life has been a testimony of giving his very best to honor God and serve the people around Him! That starts with loving and serving his wife, Tara, three daughters, and two sons. You can follow Drew on Twitter @DrewMaddux.