Tom Izzo and Draymond Green Lead the MSU Spartans to Sweet Sixteen Third Year in a Row with Optimistic Spirit
By Dr. Russ
March Madness is in full swing. Tom Izzo, Draymond Green, and the MSU Men’s Basketball team continue to teach the invaluable role of optimism in leadership and success not only in sports, but in life.
Once again MSU is in the NCAA “Sweet Sixteen.” Unlike last year and the year before, when they had many apparent obstacles to overcome, this year they entered the tournament as a number one seed. But, optimists take nothing for granted and Izzo and his star senior player Green have carried over their optimistic lessons of years past to build on the successes of this year.
OPTIMISM TIP: Be an Obstacle Terminator
What is an obstacle?
Obstacles are factors that have the potential to interfere with, derail or completely block our progress toward goal accomplishment. Internal-to-Self Obstacles are our collections of fears, anxieties and self-doubts in any given moment. External-to-Self-Obstacles are challenges and problems that need to be assessed and solved.
How do optimists versus pessimists deal with obstacles?
Highly Skilled Optimists (about 10% of the general population) learn to accurately identify obstacles standing in the way of successfully completing their plans and goals so that they can effectively terminate them with rationale problem solving.
Optimist-Pessimist-‘Tweeers (formerly referred to as Mr. or Ms. In-Betweeners; about 70% of the general population) try to go through, over, under or around the obstacle with foolhardiness, ignoring, fearing and stumbling around. In effect they self-handicap their progress and experience unnecessary frustration, worry and irritability with only moderate success at best.
Pessimists (about 20% of the general population) give their power over to the obstacle, blame it for their failure, say it can’t be or couldn’t have been done; impose a negative state of hopelessness upon themselves.
Example of an Obstacle Terminator
Two years ago, Draymond Green, a stand-out sophomore, basketball player for Michigan State University, was driving toward the basket with 23 seconds left in the NCAA semi-final game against Butler University. MSU was one point down, 50 to 49. In 6’6” Green’s way was one “BIG EXTERNAL-TO-SELF-OBSTACLE,” 6’9” Butler player Gordon Hayward. As he leaped up to take the shot, Green appeared to get “smacked” by Hayward. The ball bounced off the rim of the basket; no points. The refs did not call a foul. Butler won the game. Afterwards Hayward admitted he might have gotten a piece of Green’s shooting arm, committing a foul.
So, what did Green say?
What Green DID NOT say:
1. He did not blame the refs for a “no call,” doing so would have made him a PESSIMIST since he has no hope of overcoming the obstacle of the “BAD CALL REF.”
2. He did not say Hayward made a better play on him. Doing so would have made him an OPTIMIsM-PESSIMISM-‘TWEENER as he only had partial control over the outcome of any one-on-one play in any given moment.
What Green DID say:
- “Maybe I did get smacked, but on my behalf I have to go stronger . . .”
In this moment, Green was speaking like a “highly skilled optimist” because he took personal responsibility for the future TERMINATION of an obstacle like this. In saying, he needs to learn to “go stronger” toward the basket he was taking CONTROL OF WHAT HE COULD CONTROL – learning and practicing the skill needed to GO STRONGER; not let a “smack on the arm” interfere with his future shot making. He likely already is planning out practice sessions where he can PRACTICE “going stronger” against JUST SUCH an obstacle.
An Obstacle Terminator Role Model and Teacher
In my opinion, Green’s coach, Tom Izzo, is another example of a “highly skilled optimist.” As a college student, he missed a game winning free throw at the end of a championship game. Since that day, and right up through today, Izzo shoots one hundred foul shots a day in any given practice making sure that whatever “Internal-to-Self-Obstacle” (there are no external-obstacles in foul shooting) that interfered with his shot in-that-moment stays TERMINATED FOREVER.
Fast Forward to 2012
Optimists learn from their mistakes. In last night’s game against St. Louis University, St. Louis was on a run and had pulled within two points with only a few minutes left. This time, instead of trying to muscle past the obstacle of several defensive players and go for a lay-up, Green passed out to his point guard yelling encouragement and confidence to Keith Appling that he could make the three-pointer despite a recent shooting slump. Appling sunk the shot, Green got credit for an assist, and MSU went on to win without further major challenge.