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Shoot Your Shot

Stephen Curry is considered to be one of the best three point shooters in NBA history. He once said, "Every time I rise up [to shoot], I have confidence that I'm going to make it [the shot]." During the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 regular seasons, in which he won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award back-to-back, he attempted a combined total of 1,532 three pointers. Of those attempts, he made 688. He missed 844.

Just like the majority of basketball players in the history of the NBA, Curry missed more shots than he made. Yet that does not stop him, or any other player, from shooting his shot. Regardless of how many times they miss, shooters are confident that their next shot will go in. Thus, they keep shooting until the ball goes in the basket.

In life, you are going to miss your mark often for a variety of reasons. You will fail. But true failure only occurs when you give up. That is, when you stop shooting. For it is through failure that you learn what it takes to be successful. And the only way for you to accomplish your goals is if you persevere regardless of how many times you fail.

If there is one thing I know how to do, it is how to fail. That may sound a bit harsh, but my failures have helped me arrive at the place where I currently am in my life.

For example:

In middle school, all I wanted to do was play basketball and to be good at it. But I was so bad that in the 8th grade, I played on the 7th grade team.

When I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree, almost every graduate school I applied to in order to continue my education rejected my application.

When I sought to start my professional career, I applied to hundreds (literally) of jobs in my relevant field of study. About 97% of the time, I was not even called in for an interview, and if I was, I did not get a job offer.

To start my nonprofit’s youth mentoring program in Washington, DC almost all of the emails I sent, phone calls I made, and meetings I requested to school administrators went unanswered or ignored.

Everything I wanted to do at some point in life, I initially failed at. Yet regardless of all of those failures, I continued to shoot my shot. I continued to persevere. Because shooters shoot until their shot goes in. The most successful people in society have failed time and time again. Yet even with the failures, they continued to press on and strive to accomplish the goals they set for themselves. Everyone misses. But your success depends on whether you're willing to keep trying no matter how many times you fail or the obstacles you may face.

In almost every circumstance or endeavor in which I failed initially, through perseverance I eventually accomplished what I set out to accomplish:

I went from playing on the 7th grade basketball team in 8th grade to being one of the top players and leading scorers in my county during my senior year in high school.

I was accepted to, earned my Master’s Degree from, and enrolled in the PhD program at, Howard University in Washington, DC.

I was extended an offer of employment for a job that was directly associated with my field of study and I have been employed as an Economist for the federal government since 2012.

Lastly, a high school (and soon thereafter, a community center) opened their doors to my nonprofit’s mentoring program to begin working with their students.

Basketball has taught me a lot about life. More than just shooting until I make my shot which I detailed above. Many of the lessons I learned through watching and playing basketball, as well as the approach I took towards the game, I still apply in my daily life today. I know that if basketball helped me and continues to help me, it can help others as well. (There are an estimated 825 million followers of basketball worldwide.)

From this thought process, came the creation of the Shoot Your Shot blog. This blog uses principles from basketball to help attain your goals and realize your dreams. A combination of my passions for basketball, writing, research, and inspiring others, Shoot Your Shot will take a different approach than what's commonly seen in the self-help genre, but one that is entertaining and relatable.

I ultimately want to inspire you, the reader, to keep striving for what it is that you want in life. And to look at basketball (or all sports in general) as more than just recreation or entertainment. Basketball can be something we use to help better our lives and achieve our dreams. For me, this blog is taking a risk, but as one of my favorite sayings goes, "you miss all of the shots you don't take". I hope Shoot Your Shot encourages you to take the necessary risks to live the life you truly deserve to live.

- Vernon

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