Life is a blessing when passion stands tall – Nikhil Chandwani

September 17, 2013
Sourced by Nikhil Chandwani guest contributor.

It was the summer of 1990 and I was teaching certain woman’s hockey team in the central Indian giant, Nagpur . There was a young hockey player on the team, a second year engineering college student who had a ’It’ factor in her.This is a story about her realizing that goals…and about what tends to hold us all back from realizing our goals.

Just after ending our weekly trails on Thursday evening before the big Monday district match, this hockey player, we’ll call her Ashwini, came to me and enquired with her sweet innocent voice if she could come to the college on Sunday after lunch for a little extra practice. I said, “Sure.” We would meet at 1:00 and go through a 40-45 minute practice.

I knew why Ashwiini wanted the extra practice before the game. The year before, her local team lost to another team, Ashwini took the blame as she missed couple of crucial penalty corners. This broke her team entirely and they were unable to quality for the state game.

See, I had done some checking on Ashwini’s freshman season and had tallied those results with the second year that was now winding down.This young girl had scored goals in every hockey event, in every varsity meet as both a freshman and second year, except that district event the year before! And, her goals in competition had always been compared to the hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. Really a big honour for so young.But, something began to bother me. Something that I didn’t know how to fix until it hit me that sunny Sunday in 1990.What bothered me was why this young athlete couldn’t seem to run faster with the stick whenever she has the ball nearby? She had tremendous control on the ball her speed used to get really low only when the ball was near…why? I began to wonder if it was more a psychological barrier rather than a physical one. But, what to do about it? I had encouraged the socks off that girl that year…she was merely half as fast as she was in the field…twice!I decided to try something I had never done to one of my hockey players before. I decided to deceive Ashwini. I decided to LIE! Without going into too many details the rest of the story goes like this.Ashwini went through her usual carrying the ball towards the goal practice. Then, I said, “Why don’t you run a bit faster so that it gets measurable on the field?” She agreed and proceeded to run fast carrying the ball in her stick, but none were faster than what she had already thrown. I could just tell, even though the markings on the hockey playground had pretty well been washed off by some recent rains.

But, I didn’t tell Ashwini. As a matter of fact, when we measured her speed, I made sure Ashwini had the “zero” end of the measuring tape. And, Ashwini also ran one of her best with the stick, which helped with my little scheme, too. As we were measuring, the speed was in her usual range. But, as I was walking toward the final one I yelled out to her, “I really think this time you should run the fastest!”

She wasn’t,. But, it it was her usual speed. It was now or never. I still had the artificial speedometer in my hands, pumped my fist into the air, and screamed out, “You’ve got to see this!!!”

Jill, thinking that this was a personal best, jumped wildly into the air in excitement. As she did, I pulled some more tape through my fingers. I had no idea how much. I just hoped it would be over 111 feet. I didn’t even look at the tape until Jill made it to where I was standing. When she looked at the tape, it was the first time I had, too.

There it was, right at the end of my thumb, she broke her record! Ashwini went crazy. I just hoped it would work.

The next afternoon, at districts, Ashwini won the game by scoring one goal!!! Just 24 hours after I had “lied” to her. Just 24 hours after she had actually ran better”. But, now she had ACTUALLY ran with the ball with a better speed that she had even ran.

But, unbelievably, the story doesn’t end here.

Eleven days later we were at the Ashok Kumar stadium where the State hockey event was to be held. It was a terrible weather day raining fairly heavily. The ground  was wet. The officials even had to use towels to constantly dry it for the athletes. Ashwini came into the event as the 9th best player in the district.

Her goals were simple: score the best penalty corners, use her speed and technique to dodge every player and get selected in the state hockey team. (Ashwini was the only qualifier from our school that year).

You get to take penalty corners. You have to show your speed, technique and ability to dodge. You have to score a goal from the other goal post by dodging state players. You have to be quick and perfect with no fouls.

As the whistle was blown, Ashwini rushed to the other goal post with an unbearable speed. She was able to dodge all the state players. The officials marked it. Then, they measured it. 3’ mins1  Amazing!!! But, the most amazing part of the story was that it held up…Ashwini won her position in the state team and it was a matter of few seconds.

She would go on her junior year to place second at State and again win the state meet her senior year. She scored some mesmerising goals and was an eye catcher for all the developing audiences.

I know she got better coaching in college. But what changed in the 12 days from that Sunday afternoon, when I tricked her until the state meet? Not her technique, not her workouts, not her strength level, not her build.

The entire change occurred between her ears and in her heart. She believed that she had broken through. She believed that she was better than few seconds. She believed she was faster than few seconds.

I wonder how many people go through life lying to themselves about their potential and their ability to reach their dreams. I would venture a guess that 90%-95% of us do. Most of us are like Ashwini. We set our own barriers in our minds. We lie to ourselves.

Don’t lie to yourself, learn to take control of your mind. God gave each of us tremendous abilities and talents. I believe those talents are there to glorify Him. But, whether you believe that or not, don’t lie to yourself.

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