Don’t Just Think It, Say It

Basketball has always been my favorite sport to play. 

Which is odd. 

I am 5’10”. I jump like an elephant and run like a sloth. So the game doesn’t naturally fit me.

But I love it. (Maybe it’s the geometry. The game is all about angles.) 

Thirty-six years ago, I was playing hoop for my freshman basketball team. I started the season holding down the bench and ended the year playing 75% of each game.

I even had my best performance in our final game.

Then it happened.

My coach stood up at our winter sports banquet and said, “Brian improved more in one year than any player I have ever coached.”

Thirty-six years later, that sentence echoes through my head several times a month. 


1. It honored my work.

I spent countless hours alone working on my game in my parent’s driveway. My coach said, “I didn’t see your work, but I saw the outcome of your work.” 

2. Positive words are powerful.

Our lives are filled with negative and neutral words. Positive words stand out. So thirty-six years later, that positive sentence still carries weight.

3. He praised me for something that I cared about.

The words mean more when someone praises you for something you care about.

4. When your boss notices, it feels good.

It was one thing for my parents to praise my basketball development. It was a whole other thing when my boss (coach) noticed.

I still play basketball once a week. Before the pandemic, I was playing three times a week.

Playing basketball has dramatically improved my physical and mental health. It has positively contributed to my friendships and relationships over the last thirty-six years. 


Thanks for noticing and praising me. 

Your words lasted well beyond that night.

Now, to praise some people and pay it forward.


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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