Ambition – in my opinion – knows no boundaries.
You can be ambitious in your job, in your sports club or at the kitchen table playing Trivial Pursuit against your grandma.
I went a step further and challenged a basketball pro in a free-throw competition. Why? I love challenges and I’ve got nothing to lose.
Self-confidence gone overboard?
There are achievements you experience in life that boost your self-confidence – be it winning a tournament or securing your dream job. They make you overcome fears and challenge yourself.
As an intern at the adidas Group, I had one of those experiences just the other day when my line manager sent me to our factory outlet to pick up some gear.
As I enter the outlet, I recognize him next to the cashpoint: Steffen Hamann. A Basketball professional, calmly shopping for clothes.
If you’re into German basketball, you know and admire Steffen. He’s played with the best German teams: Brose Baskets Bamberg, ALBA Berlin, FC Bayern Munich and won three national championship titles. He took part in the Olympic Games and the European championship with the German national team.
“When someone approaches Steffen Hamann, it’s usually to get a signed autograph. But I want more. I want to jump at the chance. I want to take it!”
Michael Mayr, Intern Corporate Communication
So I approach him and we chat about basketball. I tell him about my work, ending with the sentence: “You see, I’m self-confident and bold. And that’s why I’d like to challenge you in a free-throw competition.”
What I don’t mention: although I’m absolutely obsessed with basketball, my skills on the court are not worth mentioning…
But before I know it Steffen answers: “I’m in. Let’s do it!”
We exchange phone numbers and part ways. In the following days we text each other to set the stage and date for our little challenge. Meanwhile I practice my skills by spending a couple of minutes each day at the basketball court of our World of Sports campus.
Facing up to the challenge
On decision day, we meet at a court in Bamberg. Needless to say I’m nervous.
The session starts very much like meeting for balling with a friend: we chat about the NBA playoffs and shoot from all ranges cheering for each other.
After some minutes, Steffen gives me a grin and asks: “I thought we’re meeting for a competition?”
Deep breath. The funny warm-up part is over.
We agree to do three rounds – with 10 free throws each. I start successfully and manage the first four shots (forget about the six following ones…). Steffen does a little bit better and makes one more shot at the end. 1:0 for the pro.
The second round is clear. Steffen’s warmed up.
Of course, I don’t want to leave the pitch without playing the third round, although the winner is certain. The risk pays off: I knock six shots, Steffen five.
Summing it up, I admit to a 1:2 defeat.
Not just a simple challenge, but a great learning experience
For me, the whole experience shaped up as a big win.
Not only did I have the opportunity to shoot with a pro. Steffen also took some time to talk about careers, accomplishments and negative experiences.
Here are some takeaways from our conversation that I found memorable:
- On challenges in life: “Challenges face you in different moments in your life. If you treat them with the right emotions, the outcome will be more successful and more authentic.”
- On setbacks: “Setbacks are important as you learn to appreciate every game and every assignment. By experiencing defeats you learn to appreciate wins.”
- On role models: “Role models should not only perform on the field but also show an adult and supportive attitude off the court. That’s why I have never had a star or celebrity as a role model. You don’t know how they behave when they leave the arena. I just try to have positive people around me. To me, that’s more important than having role models.”
Oh, and there was one thing he taught me about basketball that I didn’t know before:
“To improve your free-throw technique, imagine standing in a phone box without a roof trying to throw the ball outside through the ceiling.”
Steffen Hamann, professional basketball player
As we pack up to leave he says:
“You know, I like people who show self-confidence and tackle challenges in their lives. For me it was cool that you approached me with a straight proposal. That’s an attitude I appreciate. I don’t like people who hide. I like those ones that lead the way.”
Thanks Steffen for boosting my confidence!
When was the last time you challenged someone you thought is out of your league, the last time you felt a boost of confidence? What were your learnings? Looking forward to hearing from you.