Aim For the Back of the Rim

There are nine seconds left.

I get the ball on the low post and turn to shoot. The guy guarding me tries to block my shot but slaps my wrist as I release the ball, which falls harmlessly short of the basket. No points, but I do get two free throws.

My team is down by one point. Did I mention there are nine seconds left? As I step to the line, I’m mentally rehearsing everything I’ve learned in practice. “Elbow in, bend the knees, eyes on the basket…”

As I release the first shot, I can feel it…it’s short. The ball clangs off the front of the rim.  Shot two the same thing. Shots missed; game lost. Unfortunately, that happened to me in high school.

So what went wrong? I forgot variable: the level of fatigue I was feeling at the end of the game. I didn’t compensate for the fact that my body was tired and a little weaker than usual. That’s why my coach always told us to “aim for the back of the rim.” If you’re short, it still goes in.

Aim for the back of the rim.

In other words, have a plan in place to compensate for times when you are weak, fatigued, or just plain off. And I think that’s good advice for all of us…aim for the back of the rim.

It is inevitable that we will experience times of weakness, fatigue or depression. It’s perfectly human to feel weak when we haven’t gotten enough sleep, have been sick, or overdone it. I think most of us have realized we are not Superman. But do you plan for those times?

When we have a plan in place, we go from a passive victim of our physical or emotional state to being its master. We go from falling into the same tired patterns that have gotten us nowhere to a new set of actions that help me compensate for my reduced faculties.


On a recent episode of the 1 Simple Thing podcast, I talked with my friend Dr. TC North about his new book, “Fearless Leaders.” He teaches something he calls “mindfulness.”  The simplest way I can explain mindfulness is to be present in the moment. What am I feeling right now? What am I thinking right now? How is it affecting what I am doing right now?

Stop and pay attention to how you feel at that moment. Are you sleepy? Are you depressed?

And this is a key point: NO JUDGMENT! You are only observing and recognizing what you feel. Be present in that moment and allow yourself to feel it.


Now that you have allowed to yourself the freedom to feel what you feel ask yourself what may have happened that put you in that state.

Are you tired because you haven’t been going to bed on time? Have you been sick lately and you’re having a hard time getting your body cranked up again? Maybe you’re down because you had a fight with your spouse.

So often, we take our feelings or present circumstances and make more of them than they are. If I don’t feel like working today, it becomes, “I’m such a lazy bum!” If I’m tired because I didn’t get to sleep last night, it becomes, “why can’t I get my act together and go to bed like a normal person?”

We take one part of our personality, or an isolated incident in our lives and make our whole identity revolve around it. Because you are overwhelmed right now doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a workaholic. Because you are tired right now doesn’t mean you are lazy. Again, no judgment. Just assess why you feel like you do.

Your present state is not necessarily you.


What can you do to help in your present situation. Would a nap help? Perhaps a walk outside to re-center yourself. If you’re depressed, will a warm bath or coffee with a friend help? Instead of just wallowing in your present state, is there some action you can take to get beyond it?

You have played the detective and paid attention to how you feel and why you feel that way. Now is the time to put some action in place to help you through that difficult spot.

And it makes sense to have these plans in place before you fall into your time of low energy, concentration or emotions. Practice it on the small stuff. Get into a habit and discover your go-to methods for overcoming the blues. Find out if a bath or a walk is most effective. Discover for yourself the best way to take a power nap and make it a habit.

It’s a fact; you will always have times where you are down, tired, or just don’t care. But if you aim for the back of the rim and have a plan to compensate for those times you might find yourself making it a temporary detour instead of a long-term destination.

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