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10 Takeaways from 2020

Before we dive into this, a quick disclaimer that when I write these, I do them in one shot. No real planning other than quickly gathering my thoughts internally, no real editing, because I want these to come from the heart and a real place. I want to keep them raw and unrefined so as I write this, these are my first instincts about 2020.


Now to the good stuff. 2020 has been an unprecedented year, like you have heard about time and time again. COVID has stopped the world, a new normal is being born and many of our lives have been shaken up. The following are some of my reflective thoughts as I sit down to write this- some are directly related to 2020, some just a time of reflection on the greater picture. I could go on about the difficult times and the negativity that 2020 has given us, but you have read and seen enough about that, so instead, let's show the positive things that 2020 has given us because there's a lot more there than you think. Enjoy.

1. I HAVE FOUND MY PURPOSE


For so long all I wanted to do was play basketball. I wanted to play at high levels, I wanted people to know me as a basketball player. I have had a lot of time to reflect on myself this year, between the Australian bushfires that kept us locked inside for a month and covid, I have had the opportunity to really figure myself and my path out. There was no stress about upcoming games, playing well, making shots or progressing forward in my career and it made me realise the simplicity of life and what's important. I realised my ego was holding me back in my life. For so long my self worth was based on my ability as an athlete, but at the end of the day, it's a game, it doesn't matter. I look at the world, I look at so many younger boys who are lost and it hit me like a brick. Make a difference, let go of your own ego and desired personal success and make some change. It's about who we become, not what we achieve. So that's where I am now. I have set goals for the coming year and starting my own foundation is the top priority.


2. YOUR LIFE CAN CHANGE AT ANY MOMENT - STAY THE COURSE


In 2019, I was training with the Brisbane Bullets in the NBL. I was driving 2 hours each way to get to practice every day. I was leaving my apartment at 5am and getting back at 3 in the afternoon. I would go and coach some kids in the afternoon, head to bed and repeat every day. Carlie tore her ACL and wasn't able to work. We weren't living a sustainable life and I knew it (this will make for a great story when I get around to it.) But my ego wouldn't let it go, I was trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. We were broke, unhappy, stressed out and in a bad way. We decided one day to just say the hell with it and leave the Sunshine Coast. We scraped together the last of our money, booked two tickets to Wollongong and decided we would end up moving to Canberra after spending two weeks with her mom. I was disheartened to leave the Bullets, but we really didn't have an option. So after throwing away everything we had that didn't fit into one suitcase, we left for Wollongong.


A few days into being there, Carlie and I headed over to the local stadium to just go shoot around. Just to have fun, not actually work out or anything, but just enjoy ourselves for once. And so we did. Twenty minutes into shooting around, the Illawarra Hawks team and coaching staff came through the gym on their way to head off to the airport for a game. All eyes were on me for the 15 minutes or so they were in there, and when they left, the GM comes over and introduces himself. He asked me about myself and told me he and the coach would love to have me come in and practice with the team. I was there anyway so I decided to go along. Always a great experience, regardless of what you deal with along the way.


Then covid hits, budgets are skewed, but I head down to Adelaide. It just wasn't something I wanted anymore and I realised that. So when I would have been let down in past, I was looking forward to moving away from basketball. Since returning to Canberra I have hit the ground running in a way I never thought imaginable. We are no longer broke, stressed out and struggling. What we managed to accomplish in a year is absolutely incredible - and now with more clarity we are set to explode and accomplish everything we want in this coming year.


With the uncertainties of the world today, more so than ever, it is important to remember what can happen on a moments notice. You are always one small event from a big break. Life is fragile and can end in the blink of an eye and 2020 has shown us that. Be bold, think big and may every dream and desire you have come true this coming year.


3. PEOPLE NEED TO CHANGE


When covid hit people went crazy. Remember the toilet paper rush? People lost their damn minds and bought 6 months of toilet paper at a time. So much to the point that stores had to start limiting how much of each item you can buy. The crazy thing was everyone in every country was doing this.


People bought things they didn't need and left people who needed items without. Carlie and I both cannot consume gluten. We have to have gluten free pasta and bread. There were people buying gluten free pasta when there was regular pasta there, simply because they were afraid they would run out of pasta in a week. I mean what kind of logic is that?


The lack of humanity was ever evident this year. Society got so caught up that we forgot about our neighbour. We forgot to take what we needed and many didn't care who was left out in the cold.


Compassion went missing as people were scared for their own well being. And look I get it, we were dealing with something on a scale we haven't dealt with in our lifetimes, but we need to get back to what got us here in the first place. Creating a strong sense of community, looking after the next person when we have enough already.


I hope that 2021 gives us our sense of compassion and humanity back because to move forward as a species that's what we need first and foremost. When everyone matters, we will succeed beyond our wildest dreams.


4. FIND THE LOVE IN EVERYTHING.


This was an important one on a personal note this year. You know the feeling when you wake up and look forward to a day? Maybe you were taking a trip, or it's your birthday or maybe you are catching up with an old friend. Whatever it may be, you wake up ready to take the day on. Getting out of bed is easy, you don't just sit there scrolling through your phone. You're awake and alert regardless of what time it is.


Why don't we find this energy and passion each day? Why do we allow ourselves to live a life where we wake up dreading the day. Dreading the meetings at work, dreading the commute, dreading a life that we don't want. Find a reason to wake up every morning excited. Do things that make you light up when you talk about them.


The CEO for the last club I played for is an avid runner. Personally, I think he's crazy- the guy runs ultra marathons- 100 miles through rocky terrain, up and down mountains. But he loves it. He absolutely lights up talking about being 50 miles into a run. Like I said, that's not for me and I think he's crazy, but I admire his passion for doing something he loves.


When you are doing the things you love, the bumps in the road seem much smaller than the mountains you must over come when feeling the dark cloud around you. The bumps and the mountains can be the exact same obstacle, but the projection of our mental state makes some obstacles unnecessarily daunting.


When you are living your life with passion it becomes infectious. I have had teammates that hated being in practice and I have had teammates that loved being practice. Either way rubs off on you but people who live life with exuberance and energy will always inspire you to do the same. So be the light in a dark world. Shine bright and watch the environment and people around you change.


After all- we spend our days at the beach when the sun is out and shining, not in the pouring rain.



5. SINK OR SWIM - TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAOS


The world is chaotic right now. People are trying to find a means to survive while staying safe and healthy. Businesses are hanging by a thread if they haven't already folded. Either you are going to figure out how to swim, or you'll sink, as brutal as that is, it is the reality of the world right now.


There's been a shift in the world. The old way has become a thing of the past, and now, we need to figure out the best foot forward. In late January, Carlie and I launched our basketball coaching business. As you can imagine, that probably wasn't the greatest time to launch a small business that needed in person contact. We could have given it up right then and there. We needed money coming in and we were stuck. There's never a need to panic in chaos, though. When you are stuck in water, the more you panic, the faster you drown. Keep calm, keep your feet kicking and you will stay afloat long enough to find your next opportunity. We were able to make some online videos, do some video calls with some of our athletes, get involved with the schools and provide mentoring sessions. All of this came because we didn't panic- we sat down and brainstormed a hundred ideas and worked on them until one stuck.


You may feel like your head is going under but stay calm, and kick a little harder. In the end your head will stay above and you will laugh at the time that you were worried about not making it.


Find peace in the chaos, because while others will panic, those that stay calm and evaluate the scene will always find ways to move forward and find benefit.


6. GROWING AND FINDING THE LESSONS IN EVERYTHING


As I have said in previous posts, I am a believer in the powers of the universe. I believe we have the capability to manifest what we want and shape our reality. I also believe that the universe is built on patterns and cycles. There are constant lessons that we must learn to move forward. At first those lessons are small, maybe not noticeable, but when you really start to pay attention, they become more apparent. If you ignore the hints that are given, they come in a bigger form (for those interested, read up on emotional injuries and I think if you're honest with yourself, you'll be shocked.)


Life is entirely about growing and evolving. It is imperative that we work on ourselves to be the best version we can be. That growth will come with pain and discomfort, but it's what we must do to become better people.


For example, when my mom passed away it hurt like nothing I can explain. However, a lot of lessons came out of it. I had no choice but to find out how strong I was. I needed to keep moving forward in my life. If my mom was still here today, I'm not entirely sure I would have moved to Australia and stayed to be with Carlie. I wouldn't have started this blog and I would not have grown the way I have. Sometimes the only way to know how much we can handle and how powerful we truly are, is to be thrown into the deep end. Either sink or swim.


To accomplish things we haven't done, we must do things we have never done. If you continue to give the same effort and practices, then you will continue to get the same results. If you want change, you must be the change.


7. THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVENESS


Something I haven't quite touched on yet is the relationship I have with my dad. It's complex and there's a lot of emotion behind it. For the majority of my life now, I have held things against my dad that weren't fair. Carlie and I sat during COVID and spoke in length about all of this and she completely changed my outlook on our relationship. See the problem is we see our parents as super heroes growing up, but they are flawed human beings the same as we are. They have their own issues and traumas that they have in their life. I never bothered to put myself in my dad's shoes and thus, held him to an unfair standard.


I then put myself through a process of truly forgiving my dad and myself for letting our relationship become what it has. At the end of the day, none of us are perfect and we have all done things we regret or wish we handled differently. As I said before, life is about growth, not going through this thing perfectly.


With what is happening in the world today, it is so important to forgive each other. In the blink of an eye, it could be over. You will carry those emotions with you forever and eventually guilt. Let's not be trivial and cold, but compassionate and understanding of each others circumstances and feelings. We are all in this together, so right your wrongs, apologise where necessary and forgive those who may have wronged you even if they don't apologise. Not holding on to those emotions will be some of the best decisions you will make in your life. Take it from me.


8. LITTLE THINGS DON'T MATTER SO APPRECIATE THE THINGS THAT DO


The fact of the matter is life is bigger than the small materialistic things. Little set backs don't matter. Not having the new PS5 doesn't matter. Worrying about what someone said behind your back doesn't matter. What does matter? Having your health matters. Knowing that you are going to have a meal tonight, matters. Helping someone get through these difficult times by being a shoulder to lean on, matters.


We get so caught up in things that don't matter. I used to be the worst offender of all when it came to this. If it won't matter a year from now it doesn't matter right now. I am extremely protective of Carlie, and this time last year I was ready to lash out at people that had negative things to say about her. Today, I couldn't even tell you what was being said about her on this day last year. People are going to say things regardless, why pay any attention to it?


The same goes for my time in basketball, I couldn't tell you my stats from college, or who our leading scorer was my freshman year. I couldn't tell you who was player of the year during my time in Finland or who won the championship in Luxembourg. Do you know why? It simply doesn't matter.


Now I am putting my energy into what does matter. I know I helped a kid with some serious mental health issues this year get his life on track. I know that another kid I mentored over came some serious bullying and is finding his own success. I know that this blog has hit home for some people and they have told me it's given them comfort to start moving forward in their own lives and accepting what has happened. We all have the capability to change the world for the better, and I have decided I damn sure am going to take my best crack at doing it- because that's what matters.


9. THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF REFLECTION AND BEING COMFORTABLE WITH YOURSELF


I think this is a really big one, especially for this year. Many of us struggle with being by ourselves. It's rare to see people happy to spend time by themselves and reflecting on their own thoughts. This year we have been forced to spend time apart from people and it has been difficult for many of us. But as the world stops, don't forget time doesn't. There are opportunities for self reflection and really addressing some of the internal issues that we have. We can really improve who we are as people in this time and in turn will make the world a better place.


Every lasting second doesn't need to be spent on self reflection and self improvement, but ten minutes a day can do wonders for your mental well being, as well as your improvements. Come out of this crazy time a better person and ready to attack the world when we are ready to open back up safely.


10. DREAM BIG AND STAY POSITIVE


For a long time, I was forced to think small. I didn't think I was capable of big changes in this world. But why not? Why can't I achieve whatever I set out too? A lot of this has come from self reflection and a change in who I deal with on a daily basis. I have no time for negativity in my life anymore. Even the subtle jokes that aren't meant to be harmful have no place in my life anymore because whether we realise it or not, those subtle jokes carry a subconscious weight. Eventually those false truths become what we believe.


I know what I want in this life. I know what I want to accomplish. I refuse to allow those self limiting thoughts or the negative beliefs from others and their insecurities stop me from moving forward. I have realised the fragility of life even more this year, between COVID and the fires in Australia, why wouldn't you want to dream big? Like my college coach used to tell us- he didn't want people who would get up to the plate hoping to get walked. He wanted people who would take the bat off their shoulder and swing (He had quite a few expletives in there but you get the message.) 2020 has given me the courage to swing the bat and that's what we're going to do.


Success is never a direct path, but a series of climbs over mountain tops. It's never easy to do what some deem impossible, however, nothing in this world worth having, comes easy.


So as we close the book on 2020 and gear up for 2021, live freely, do what you love, be kind and patient with others and be safe.


Here's to a successful, happy and healthy 2021.