You’re Gonna Make It

By pure chance this evening, I stumbled on a truly inspirational 1993 ESPY Awards speech from Coach Jim Valvano given just a couple of months before he sadly died of metastatic cancer.

As head basketball coach at North Carolina State University, Valvano won the 1983 NCAA Basketball Tournament against long odds.

My father had a heart attack and he died. And I lost my best friend in the whole world. This is not a sad story, it’s a happy story, but I was knocked for a loop. Those of you who have lost a loved one know what that’s like. This was my first time in my life. I didn’t know how to handle it. And I was missing, I couldn’t understand what it was I was missing… What was it? I didn’t see him all the time, I was traveling a lot. And then it hit me, what it was he gave me. I think it’s the strongest, the most powerful gift I’ve ever received. And it’s a gift I find we don’t like to give to each other, both in our business and our personal lives.
I’ve spent two years trying to give this gift to other people. The gift my father gave me every day of my life was he believed in me. My father believed in me. He believed in me when I failed. He believed in me when I wasn’t as fine a son, friend, husband, father as I could be. And I’ve done all of that. But he’s the one person who when I didn’t measure up to my standard or someone else’s standard, he’d look me in the eye and say, “You’re gonna make it, I know you are… You’re gonna make it.” And it’s the greatest thing. And I said to myself, “How many people do I give that to? My own players, how often when they make a mistake am I critical, but never, ever look them in the eye and say ‘Son, you’ll make it, I know you will. I know you can. I believe it.’ How many people who I work with do that? How many people who I work for do that?” Oh, it’s an incredible gift and I’ve worked two years now to add it to my personal philosophy.

So will I. Thanks Jim.

Originally published at