Posts Tagged ‘disrespect’

Using Disrespect for Motivation

December 2, 2009

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog called “Using Disrespect to Motivate Yourself and Prove People Wrong.”

I decided to reprint some of it now.  You see it in sports all the time.  When you’re disrespected it gives you extra incentive to not only prove your doubters wrong, but to beat them if it’s in the sports world, or if outside of the sports world then at least to show them that they made the wrong decision.

You see, you take a personal slight, get upset about it, make it bigger than it is, and then actually relish the fact that someone disrespected you.  It takes on a life of its own – you never, ever forget – and then you do some truly great – even transcendent – things afterwards, partly because of the extra motivation.  You may say that you shouldn’t need that extra motivation, but it is what it is, and you should do whatever works for you.

I was reminded of this lately because of the recent situations involving Michael Jordan and Brett Favre, not to mention countless games in which underdogs beat favorites, and I’ve even had a few situations myself for which the concept applies.

I’ll start with me and then get to the more interesting stuff.

Three years ago I wrote about why I like working with kids with autism under my first FAQ at http://www.coachmike.net/autism-faq.php:

“I’ve always loved sports, and I root for the underdog. Anybody who has played sports or been a sports fan knows that when someone says you can’t do something, you love to prove them wrong. I prefer working with the kids who have the most severe disabilities because I love the challenge. One of the things I like most about working with kids with autism is the amount of progress that they have the potential to make.”

In the past five years, I’ve worked with a lot of children and several adults with autism.  I have never had a situation that didn’t work out well.  But sometimes schedules change. I was working on sports skills with a five-year old child once.  When he started kindergarten he had less free time so I had to stop after about eight months.  Sports was the first thing to get cut because of the “schedule.”  I could have (perhaps should have?) – said that that made sense.  But I took it personally.

I use things like that for extra motivation and can honestly say that the kids who I work with make great progress in all areas.  I believe that with all my heart, and I will do anything to make it so.  I can assure you that any kids who I work with will end up being more successful in all areas (and I usually break the areas down into 1) academics, cognitive skills and communication skills; 2) social skills, playdates, and emotional awareness and management; and 3) sports, exercise, and motors skills).

Anyway, now onto Michael Jordan.  His speech at the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in September was considered controversial because he mentioned several times during which he felt slighted and he used those incidents for extra motivation.  Jordan was famous for that.

In 1993, LaBradford Smith of the Washington Bullets (yes, the Bullets – here’s hoping new owner Ted Leonsis will change the name back and change back to the old red white and blue uniforms too) scored 37 points against Jordan and the Bulls and supposedly said, “Nice game, Mike.”  Jordan vowed to score 37 points against the Bullets the next game by halftime and he scored 36 by the half, 47 in all in just 31 minutes.

Great story, but it never happened.  At least the part about Smith taunting Jordan.

The funny thing is that Jordan admitted later that Smith never taunted him, but he just made the story up to give him extra motivation.  Here are some highlights from the game in which Jordan got his revenge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdDb32m2EsM.

Jordan didn’t mention that incident during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony, but he did mention the following, and I borrow from Brian Mahoney’s article from the Associated Press:

  • The coach who cut him from the varsity as a North Carolina schoolboy.

“I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude.”

  • Isiah Thomas, who allegedly orchestrated a “freezeout” of Jordan in his first All-Star game.

“I wanted to prove to you, Magic (Johnson), Larry (Bird), George (Gervin), everybody that I deserved (to be there) just as much as anybody else, and I hope over the period of my career I’ve done that without a doubt.”

  • Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy – Jordan called him Pat Riley’s “little guy” – who accused Jordan of “conning” players by acting friendly toward them, then attacking them in games.

“I just so happen to be a friendly guy. I get along with everybody, but at the same time, when the light comes on, I’m as competitive as anybody you know.”

  • The media who said Jordan, though a great player, would never win like Bird or Johnson.

“I had to listen to all that, and that put so much wood on that fire that it kept me each and every day trying to get better as a basketball player.”

  • Lastly, Utah’s Bryon Russell. Jordan recalled meeting Russell while he was retired and playing minor league baseball in 1994 – and with Sloan looking on in horror – told of how Russell insisted he could have covered him if Jordan was still playing. Russell later got two cracks at Jordan in the NBA finals, and he was the defender when Jordan hit the clinching shot to win the 1998 title.

“From this day forward, if I ever see him in shorts, I’m coming at him.”

Brett Favre is another example of someone who tries to prove somebody wrong.  Now let me first say that I’m not a Brett Favre fan.  I think he’s been overrated throughout his career because his tendency to throw too many interceptions hurt his team almost as much as his abilities helped him.  Also, he was very wishy-washy the last several years about whether to retire or continue to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

In fact, a couple of years ago he said his heart wasn’t in the game.  I still think the Packers made the right choice by keeping Aaron Rodgers instead of Favre.  By the time Favre wanted to come back, Green Bay had made other plans.  But having said all that, Favre is having an unbelievable season.  True, he has a great running back and an excellent defense, but Favre has 24 touchdown passes and just three inteceptions, and the Vikings are 11-1.

The thing is, Favre wanted to play for the Vikings, one of the Packers’ most hated rivals last year but he had to go to the New York Jets instead.  This year he got his wish, and you have to give him credit – the Vikings beat the Packers twice this year.  Part of Favre’s motivation is to say, “I told you so,” to the Packers and to make the Packers regret their decision.  I don’t think it’s healthy to use revenge as a motivational tool, but maybe a little bit of “I told you so” or “I’ve proven you wrong” is healthy.

Now, this isn’t the stuff of MJ legend, but when I tried out for the junior high school tennis team in ninth grade, I was cut from the team.  I made the team the next year in high school, and during my junior and senior seasons I had a combined record of 23 wins and eight losses playing at number one doubles.  Then I lettered for four years at Division III Ohio Wesleyan University, albeit a small university.  I never forgot that the “coach” wrongly cut me in ninth grade and put other players on the team ahead of me whom I was much better than.

Then in 2000, after not playing competitively for a decade, I signed up to play in a 4.0-level tennis league.  They told me I would play the first match and then I showed up and they said I wasn’t going to play the first match – I would have to watch.  So I went home, cancelled the check, and looked for a 4.5-level (higher level) league.  I found one and won six of the eight matches I played in doubles.  The local tennis board had to rule on whether to let me play after cancelling the check and writing a new one.  Luckily, they let me play.

Anytime somebody tells you you can’t do something or doubts you, you hate it.  You hate it so much, but then you savor it.  Because it gives you extra motivation.  You never, ever forget it, and then you use it to achieve something great.

Using Disrespect to Motivate Yourself and Prove People Wrong

October 5, 2009

In sports, as in life, sometimes when you feel slighted and disrespected, it can give you extra motivation to do well to prove people wrong.

Michael Jordan was famous for it, Brett Favre is going through it now, and I’ve even used it myself for extra incentive.

“It” happens when people underestimate you.

A lot of people were put off by Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame induction speech last month, when he recounted many instances when people said he wasn’t good enough.  Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he never forgot it, so he became the greatest player of all time.  Writers said he’d never win a championship, so he won six.

In 1993, LaBradford Smith of the Washington Bullets scored 37 points against Jordan and the Bulls and supposedly said, “Nice game, Mike.”  Jordan vowed to score 37 points against the Bullets the next game by halftime and he scored 36 by halftime, 47 in all in just 31 minutes.  The funny thing is that Jordan admitted later that Smith never taunted him, but he just made the story up to give him extra motivation.

Now, just hours before Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings takes on his former team, the Green Bay Packers, there’s a lot of talk of revenge.  This is different than the Jordan situation, though.  While the Packers decided to let Favre go a couple of years ago in favor of Aaron Rodgers, it was partly because Favre kept going back and forth and wouldn’t give Green Bay a decision about whether he wanted to come back instead of retire.  When the deadline had passed with Favre deciding to remain retired, the Pack decided to go with Rogers.

Last summer before Favre signed with the New York Jets, it was clear his first choice was to go to Minnesota because they were one of Green Bay’s major rivals.  Favre wanted revenge.  He would like nothing better than to prove the Packers wrong.  But the Packers made the right decision.  Favre broke down at the end of last season, and though he’s having success this year, it’s mainly because he’s on a very good team.  And most football insiders know that Favre takes away as much as he gives, as he has more interceptions than any QB in NFL history (Click on “Quarterbacks” on the right side of the blog to see what I wrote about Favre a year ago).

Still, the idea of proving someone wrong can be very strong, and if you can use it as motivation, more power to you.

You see this most often in sports when an underdog uses disrespect as extra motivation to win.

Three years ago I wrote about why I like working with kids with autism under my first FAQ at http://www.coachmike.net/autism-faq.php:

I’ve always loved sports, and I root for the underdog. Anybody who has played sports or been a sports fan knows that when someone says you can’t do something, you love to prove them wrong. I prefer working with the kids who have the most severe disabilities because I love the challenge. One of the things I like most about working with kids with autism is the amount of progress that they have the potential to make.

I remember a time when an autism therapist asked why multiplication should be taught to a child who would never have a reason to use it.  About a year after that, the child mastered triple digit multiplication.

When I tried out for the junior high school tennis team in ninth grade, I was cut from the team.  I made the team the next year in high school, and during my junior and senior seasons I had a combined record of 23 wins and eight losses in doubles.  Then I lettered for four years at Division III Ohio Wesleyan University, albeit a small university.  I never forgot that the coach wrongly cut me in ninth grade and put other players on the team ahead of me whom I was better than.

Then in 2000, I signed up to play in a 4.0-level tennis league.  They told me I would play the first match and then I showed up and they said I wasn’t going to play the first match – I would have to watch.  So I went home, cancelled the check, and looked for a 4.5-level (higher level) league.  I found one and won six of the eight matches I played in doubles.  Some tennis board had to decide whether to let me play or not after cancelling the check and writing a new one.  Luckily, they did.

I’m not trying to compare Michael Jordan to me, I’m just saying that proving people wrong can be a powerful motivational tool.

How many times has the media counted someone out?  John Elway can’t win a Super Bowl (he won two).  Peyton Manning can’t win the big one (he won a Super Bowl).  Kobe Bryant can’t win an NBA title without Shaq (he did it last year).

Keep giving people motivation.  Keep saying they can’t do something.  But don’t put limitations on anyone.  I just searched on the word “limit” from the “Autism” category of my blog.  It came up three times:

I quoted from the book “Engaging Autism” by Stanley Greenspan:  “Schools tend to be very structured and to put a high priority on compliance and limit setting, rather than on engaging, interacting, problem-solving, and thinking creatively and logically.”

Then, from “Sports for Children with Autism,” which I wrote last summer:

“I never would have thought hockey would be a great sport for kids with autism because of the need to skate and handle a stick simultaneously, but it turns out that it can be great, and it just goes to show that we shouldn’t put limitations on anyone.”

And finally, this:  “A lot of people are familiar with the amazing story of Jason McElwain, an autistic teenager who scored 6 three-point baskets in a game for his high school team a few years ago. This type of success doesn’t happen a lot, but it would never happen if too many limitations are put on children who have autism and other disabilities who want to play sports.”