At the gym I go to there's a particularly dedicated young man who is a
competitive basketball player. How do I know this? I know this because
I observed this guy strapping on some extremely ungainly shoes and
jumping up and down off of a static wooden box for 30 minute stretches.
These shoes are extraordinary - they give you a 6" lift on the ball of
your foot but no heel equivalent, so you can't stand back. The result
is that you are strengthening your calf muscles and are on your toes
for the entire exercise. My calves started crying just watching him.
day I saw "The Jumper" on the street. I politely stopped him,
introduced myself and asked him why he wore those shoes and engaged in
that exercise every day? He explained to me that he is a competitive
basketball player and that the exercises were supposed to help him to
jump higher. So I asked the obvious questions: Does it work? Have you
noticed a significant increase in your jumping ability? Is all the pain
and sacrifice worth it? The quiet answer came: yes. The Jumper humbly
informed me that he is the highest jumper on his team.
achieved his goal, you would think that maybe The Jumper could relax a
little; perhaps explore some other techniques that would maintain his
jumping prowess. But no! Continuing to work out with a broad variety of
weights, The Jumper sticks to his daily regimen of strapping on the
shoes and engages in the mind numbing and muscle-screaming task of his
systematic feet alternating pattern, jumping on the block, jumping off
the block. For at least thirty minutes. Taking a rest, then jumping
The Jumper is a good reminder to me that excellence
is achieved through hard work and determination. He doesn't jump the
highest on his team because it comes naturally to him. He has attained
that distinction through past hard work and continuing dedicated
effort. It's sometimes easy to look at someone successful and think
that maybe they just got all the right breaks, had the right
connections, etc. The Jumper's story symbolizes to me that with our own
effort, we can make things happen for ourselves. It's a lesson that I
need to learn over and over again.