When we were seven years old, our four closest friends played soccer. They had practice three times a week, and games on the weekends, and every Monday morning they came to school in good spirits, recapping the highlights from the weekend games. There was nothing more that we wanted to do than to join them and play soccer too. There was something about soccer in particular that really appealed to us and that our energetic little bodies found to be so much fun. Plus, we wanted to be part of the action, the Monday chat, the weekday practices, the weekend games and after-game pizza parties, and more than anything we wanted to be a part of the camaraderie.
But this wasn’t an option for us—the problem was that soccer was so popular and competitive in our town that there were never two open spots on the same team. And our Mom didn’t want to put us on two separate teams and have to shuttle us to different practices and games (and now as a Mom of twins myself, I absolutely don’t blame her!). Not to mention, she didn’t want our teams to have to play against each other either. After, all, which team’s sidelines would she sit on?!
It wasn’t until we were eleven years old that two spots on the same team finally became available. We had waited so long that when the day came we could barely contain ourselves. By this time most of our friends had been mastering the craft and enjoying playing the game on a team since they were five years old, and we had waited six long years for this moment. However, when we put on our shin guards and headed on the field for our first practice, reality set in. We were bad. And not just bad. We were really bad. In fact, we were the worst players on the field, and it didn’t feel good. No one wanted to pass us the ball. We didn’t have any natural ability. Not one bit.
Discouraged and upset after practice, we came home to tell our parents what had happened. We shared our disappointment – and let them know that we were afraid that our teammates wouldn’t want us on their team, that we’d never be as good as our friends, and we’d always feel left out of the sport that we loved. They gave us a pep talk and encouraged us to keep trying our best. They promised us that hard work and persistence always pays off and they assured us that with practice we’d improve.
The next day after school it was raining, and soccer practice was cancelled, but we headed out to our back yard to practice. We played outside in the pouring rain until our Mom made us come in for dinner and told us it was too dark to be out. Each day that we didn’t have our team soccer practice, we practiced on our own and on weekends whether we had a game or not, we got up early to practice. We truly enjoyed the sport and were determined to improve – and our parents’ words of encouragement, promising us that practicing and working hard pays off stuck with us.
We kept at it. Although our progress was slow, we progressively saw improvement. Initially coaches didn’t play us much in games. But gradually they started to play us more and one coach in particular, began rewarding our hard work. He acknowledged his appreciation of the effort we put in at practice and the fact that we always showed up and gave 100% effort. Although we were quite far from being the best players, he rewarded our hard work by playing us more in games, even more than some good players who didn’t give the effort that we displayed. Getting to play more in games was just the encouragement we needed. We really started to improve from the game-time competition, loved the sport more than ever and this all motivated us and fueled our passion even more.
As the seasons advanced, with hard work and determination we continued to improve, and we enjoyed the process of getting better. We dreamed of making the competitive high school team. When other kids were sleeping in, sitting in the air conditioning, or sitting by the pool over the summertime before high school began, we woke up early every morning to practice.
And guess what? Our parents were right! We made the team! It was one of our most profound accomplishments. It taught us not to give up and that we could accomplish anything we set our minds to as long as we were persistent and worked hard. It taught us to believe in ourselves. And it set the stage for how we live our lives.
Nothing in our business has ever come easy. Nothing. We’ve worked long and hard for every little bit of success. And we never give up. When times get tough we remind ourselves of what our parents taught us and how hard we worked. We think of the amazing feeling we had when we made the high school soccer team – and then we work even harder.
And we live our lives according these words:
Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Stay positive.