This morning I came across the following parable and it struck me that although it is true of life in general, it especially relates to basketball coaches (and even basketball players).

You probably already have this notion tucked away in the back of your mind, but I thought today would be a good day to remind you that your journey to improvement as a basketball coach is never-ending. And, yes, that’s a good thing.

After years of relentless training, the student has finally reached a pinnacle of achievement in the discipline and kneels before his sensei in a ceremony to receive his Black Belt.

“Before granting you the belt, you must pass one more test,” the sensei solemnly tells the young man.
“I’m ready,” responds the student, expecting perhaps one more round of sparring.

“You must answer the essential question, ‘What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?'”
“Why, the end of my journey,” says the student. “A well-deserved reward for all of my hard work.”
The master waits for more. Clearly, he is not satisfied. The sensei finally speaks: “You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year.”

As the student kneels before his master a year later, he is again asked the question, “What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?”
“A symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art,” the young man responds.
Again the master waits for more. Still unsatisfied, he says once more: “You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year.”

A year later the student kneels before his sensei and hears the question, “What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?”
This time he answers, “The Black Belt represents not the end, but the beginning, the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard.”
“Yes,” says the master. “You are now ready to receive the Black Belt and begin your work.”

Have you reached the pinnacle of your coaching goals? Do you finally have that Head Varsity job? Or, that college job? Or, that first coaching job? The work you put in to get there is just the beginning. The title of coach is an honor (just like the Black Belt); it’s not the finish line.

One Response

  1. That is an excellent post. We have a saying in our martial arts school – “you graduate when you die” to emphasize the very same point illustrated here. People get focused on the outward symbols of their “achievements” leaving them no where left to go if they reach their goal. Indeed it is about the journey, not the destination. The development of the self along the way is far more powerful then any belt,, sash or trophy.

Leave a Reply