Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe, for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar (shame on you), is a basketball legend who had a Hall of Fame career in the NBA with the Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks in the 1960s and 1970s. Earl's talent was so immense and otherworldly that in addition to his more popular nickname of 'The Pearl' was also known as 'Black Jesus' early in his playing days.
Monroe was a rare player - a creative, almost effortless scorer, (he averaged an astonishing 41 points in his senior year in college), who later in his career became an important and team oriented player on some fantastic teams, including one NBA champion in the 1973 Knicks.
Earl has a new book out titled Earl The Pearl: My Story, and recently has been doing a number of interviews promoting the book, and the 40th Anniversary of that Knicks championship team of 1973. I caught one of these interviews, on New York sports talk radio, where Earl related a wonderful story of his earliest days learning to play.
Earl got a late start, even for those days, as a basketball player, not taking up the game until he was 14 years old. As you'd expect, in the beginning Earl was not as good or polished as other kids his age who had been playing for a few years. Earl shared how he'd come home from the playground and tell his mother that he wasn't good enough, and that the other kids all mocked and teased him pretty badly.
Earl's mom would have none of it. She told Earl to quit complaining. But in addition to the tough love, she also gave Earl a great approach to addressing his problem. She told him to get a notebook and write down the names of all the other boys that were better players than him and that were putting him down. Once the list was written, she then told Earl to keep working, keep practicing, and not to think about what anyone said.
Then she said, once you improve your game and surpass a player on the list, cross out his name. And keep doing this until all the names are crossed out. Then you can throw away the notebook and know that you have accomplished something you set out to do. And then it would be time for the next goal, and a new list of names in a new notebook.
It was a great story, and you could tell Earl enjoyed sharing it, and the memory of his Mom and how she helped keep him grounded, focused, and determined.
It's also a really neat approach to achieving a difficult goal. Writing the list in the notebook served dual purposes - short term motivation - 'I need to be better than the next guy', while keeping the longer term goal in view - 'Once all the names are crossed out, I can move on to the next big challenge'.
Very cool and even better to hear a legend like Pearl share the story.
So, who is on your list in your notebook?