Left-Hand Courage

Back in May, I had a wonderful morning with the Girls on the GLOW. I was invited to speak to the group, and the topic that morning was positive thinking. It was my second time speaking this amazing group. I had been invited the previous year to speak about how to deal with adversity. That’s when we came up with the The Three Rules (click on the link to learn all about these most important rules and the GLOW program.)

So…positive thinking. How do you change that phrase from cliché to instructional? The GLOW girls and I started by identifying the opposite of positive. We came up with words like negative, afraid, shy, unsure, and sad. We decided that these are all the feelings that stop us from thinking positively. We are afraid to fail. We are shy about trying new things. We are unsure if we will have success.  We are sad when we fail.

And then we talked about courage. Courage is hard. It can be elusive. Sometimes finding courage isn’t even the challenge. The challenge is submitting to courage and letting it drag you by the hand into uncharted waters, well outside your comfort zone.  It may take you to that dark place where failure lives, where ego goes to die. Nobody wants to go there.

This post is called Left-Hand Courage because I coach basketball. Most humans, hence most basketball players, are right-handed. So if I ask my team of 10 players to start dribbling, 9 or 10 of them would pick up a ball and immediately dribble with their right hand. And if I ask them to switch to their left hand, they squirm. They struggle. They don’t like it. Dribbling with your left hand feels unnatural and weird and like a disaster waiting to happen, the disaster being dribbling the ball off your foot and watching it roll out-of-bounds. To avoid what feels like impending doom, most players will only dribble with their right hand.

The GLOW girls and I discussed this. We decided that if you want to be a good basketball player, you need to be able to dribble well with BOTH hands. If you can only dribble with one hand, you can only use one half of the court. Your possibilities are limited. The other team will exploit your weakness.

Getting to that place where you can dribble with both hands equally well takes lots of practice, for sure. But it also takes courage. At some point during the game, you will have to put the ball on your weak hand and go for it. You have to do it knowing that you might fail, you might dribble off your foot, or double-dribble, or the ball might get stolen. And then the other team gets the ball and scores and it feels like everyone in the gym is looking at you and knows it’s your fault. Whoa. Scary.

But maybe after a few failed attempts, you have success. You dribble with your left hand, and then make a great pass, or you drive past the defense and score. Now, you are a formidable opponent. Now the defense, heck THE WHOLE WORLD must adjust to you and your sweet handle and your left-hand courage. Step off, suckers. I’m comin’ at ya.

We also talked about coaches and parents and friends being supportive. If you going to use your left-hand courage, you want to know that there is a support system that will pick you up when you fall. For the GLOW girls, we decided that was definitely Mom and Dad, who always love you and support you and are proud of your courageous spirit. For me, it’s my family and friends. If I try something new, like a longer race distance or a different job, the possibility of failure always looms. But knowing my support system is there for me gives me the courage to give anything a try. Almost anything. I will never sky dive.

Most appropriately, the GLOW girls and I finished our time together with a basketball dribbling race. We all brought our left-hand courage to the race, and got better each time down the court.


For me, one of the best parts of my visits to see the GLOW girls is the thank-you notes I receive a few weeks later.  I hope the girls will use their left-hand courage on the court and in life. Personally, I need no left-hand courage. I am left-hand brave. It helps that I am left-handed.

The GLOW girls rule!!!


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