Are You Willing?

By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Summer 2002
If you want something, you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.

That sentence is a powerful success statement. You can set all the goals you want, but if you are not willing to really do something, your chances of distinguished accomplishment are not great. An eleven-type person is willing to do something he or she has never done, even extraordinary things. Sometimes the passion to excel is so great, you don’t even realize extraordinary things are happening.

Sam Snead, one of the greatest golfers in history, made the following comment: “People think that my swing came easy and that I didn’t have to ever practice. That’s a bunch of B.S. When I was young, I would practice all day. I can remember I would swing and swing and swing . . . until my hands bled.”

L. Jay Silvester, former world record holder in the discus (225-2) and Olympic medalist, grew up in a small farming town. I marveled at a story he told me about how he practiced as a youth. “I just loved to throw the discus,” said L. Jay. “When you hit a throw just right, there is no greater feeling. I would throw all the time even in the winter. I would go to a vacant farm field covered with snow and throw for two hours. I would set a mark and see if I could throw it over the county road.”

Sean Miller was a high school basketball player from Pennsylvania. His dad was his basketball coach. I did a BFS Clinic in the ‘80s for Coach Miller and stayed in his family’s home. They had invented a basketball retrieval-net system so Sean could practice a lot more shots in a given time period. He shot a minimum of two hundred free throws every day. During his senior year, Sean had a national record-breaking performance by making 93 percent of his free throws---a record that probably still stands today.

Three years ago my son (now 15) and I took up golf. We play and practice all the time. Not to where our hands bleed, but close. Last February, I was playing at the Meadow Lake course in Escondido, California. The par-three fourth hole is stunning. It’s on top of a cliff. You can see for 50 miles. There are trees on the left and right, bunkers to the left and in the back. The group in front hit and then took their cart down the winding path to the green and chipped on. The field marshall then had them wait on the edge of the green while our group teed off. I hit my shot well. It went high in the air. I thought, “Great, it’s going to be on the green.” Then as it hit the green, I thought, “I’m going to have a chance at a birdie.” Then, it rolled right in! The group below went nuts. Our group went nuts as we saw it drop.

True stories like this show we are never too old or young to experience the thrill of success through hard work. You should ask yourself if the rewards are worth it. But the real question is, are you willing to do what is necessary?

Dr. Greg Shepard at the Meadow Lake golf course.