It is the difference between winning or losing, between success or failure. It is what athletes call a “game changer.” Sometimes it is obvious, like a powerful relief pitcher striking out the last three batters in a baseball game. Other times it is subtle, like the confident swagger of a team captain in a close basketball game.
As a professional basketball player with the Harlem Globetrotters, I played in over 95 countries in front of millions of people wearing the most recognizable uniform in sports. When I recently had the privilege of speaking at the 2018 Ashford University commencement, I experienced a flood of memories about my special game changer —earning my degree at Ashford.
A college degree can offer something tangible such as a promotion or a better job, but I want to share with you three higher-level intangible game changers that Ashford gave me — discipline, time, and vision.
Discipline is the ability to realize a goal by taking the necessary steps to achieve it. While this game-changer may sound simple, demonstrating discipline is not easy. Financial hardship, health problems, and an unsatisfying life are sometimes traced back to a lack of discipline. A disciplined life is achieved one way only — practice. Very few are naturally disciplined. We rely on coaches and mentors to push us and set goals for us until we are self-disciplined. A good mentor knows that his or her job is to make you do the things you do not want to do but that are necessary to achieve the things you most desire. No winning team ever had a coach who was lax on the players.
No matter what your major is, your college experience will force you to be disciplined. The act of completing each paper, each course, and finally earning your degree will build a track record of discipline that will become the basis for confidence to pursue future undertakings, just as it has done for me.
After a big show in a packed arena, many of my Harlem Globetrotter teammates would blow off steam watching movies or hanging out together. I enjoyed those times, too, but more often I was alone in my hotel room reading and studying. I used my down time to achieve something. Ultimately, this choice gave me more time to do other things.
Deadlines, end-of-course projects, and the accountability provided by grades gives you the gift of time. You will begin to see every moment as an opportunity, and if you are reading this, you want something more. You want your time to multiply and to count. Pursuing your degree will solidify this core character trait in you.
The average person sees an empty lot as dust and debris, while the visionary perceives new construction, a business opportunity, and a future. A visionary doesn’t see what is. He or she sees what can become. They are the team leaders, the CEOs, the business-owners. The visionary deals in the hottest commodity that exists — potential. A dreamer has big ideas but no discipline or time. A visionary uses discipline and time to achieve a vision. When you attain a major vision, such as earning a bachelor’s degree, you have a proven blueprint to be a lifetime visionary.
I have been able to achieve a lot in my lifetime but receiving my degree from Ashford University was extremely special. It was the culmination of not only the vision I had for myself but the wise vision of my father, who insisted that education was the path to success. I grew up in Panama and then settled in the United States, but my father never wavered in his insistence that despite my skill in basketball I needed to be well-educated. I learned discipline. I gained time. I am a visionary. Ashford provided these game-changers for me.
*Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus.
Written by Kevin Daley, a 2010 graduate, a former professional basketball player, and a 10-year veteran and leader of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. An award-winning author, speaker, and leadership consultant, his newest book, 1 plus one = TEN, is a must-read for both seasoned and up-and-coming young future leaders. Learn more at www.KevinDaleySpeaks.com.