Keep Pounding the Rock
There is an old tale of a stone cutter hitting a rock 100 times and the stone not breaking. But, on the 101st hit, the stone breaks in two. It’s often explained that it was not the 101st hit that broke the rock but all that had come before it. In this case the 100 previous blows.
This story directly correlates to my life and I would imagine everyone else’s. The stories just change for every person. Sometimes we make it to hit number 101, and sometimes we stop at 90. The key to getting things done, especially things worth while is to keep pounding at the rock until we get it to crack.
This past week the summer team I coach at VK Basketball was the perfect example of this working out. They are a cool group, they work hard, but they couldn’t take their games to the next level. Our coaching staff had shared the same things over and over, but for whatever reason it wasn’t registering with them. We’ve played over 30 games this spring/summer but some things just weren’t clicking. We wouldn’t talk on defense to save our lives, we couldn’t sprint the floor hard, we wouldn’t play with confidence, there was a big group of things we couldn’t get done. To their credit, they came to practice every day, they tried hard in the games and our coaches relentlessly went at them to get better every day. Eventually, the rock broke. We went to Louisville and they lost their first game but then went on a big winning streak to play in the final of our division. We then went to Chicago and went undefeated and made the final again, this time winning it all.
Each day was better than the last, they started working harder, they started playing tougher, they started communicating at a higher level, everything started to click. The best part was that it wasn’t just our best players, it was players 1-9. They all chipped in and showed improvement. We started getting compliments from the other coaches on our teams play. The future looks bright for us and I’m excited for the next few weeks with this team and to see them again next spring.
The funny thing is there wasn’t always a ray of optimism on this situation. It didn’t always look like it was going to work out. I’m sure lots of coaches/parents/players watched us at the beginning of the summer and thought, “wow that group looks lost”, “I thought they were better”, “they run the wrong stuff”, “they don’t move the ball”. All of these were our attempts at pounding the rock.
The way they played gave us hope for our next tournament. The challenge though is to not quit, to find a way to stay confident and know that eventually you are going to make it, that eventually the work you are putting in will pay off. The challenge is to stay the course, to stay positive, to find new ways to challenge yourself without losing enthusiasm.
I have the same problem in the ticket business. There are times we have a tough go at buying the right tickets or finding and making the right deals with our suppliers and our sellers. Sometimes you feel like you can’t do it anymore. However, I need to constantly remind myself that this might just be the next hit at the hammer that opens it all up.
I had Dodgers tickets for 7 years and constantly had people make fun of me for barely making any money on them. Everyone benefited except for me. The guy who sold me the tickets got a raise and a promotion because he found a sucker like me. 82 games a year for 7 years we had to sell these tickets and it was a disaster. Each year though I knew that one day it would pay off, one day they would go to the World Series and it would be the breakthrough I was looking for. I knew they were set up for success for the next 20 years because they were trying to win badly, I just needed to stay patient. It wasn’t easy, but we stuck in there and the team made it to the World Series and took it to 7 games. It was the biggest score of our company’s history and it was a very fun time. The only downer was them losing. If I had cancelled the tickets the year before they made it, it would have been extraordinarily painful. Pounding that rock each year didn’t look like it was going to pay off, but finally it did.
The challenge now is to find the next rock and keep pounding away until that next great breakthrough. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be annoying, hard, painful, and boring but one day we’ll get there and that 101st blow will be worth all that had come before it.