Strive for Jeremy Lin’s perseverance, not just his success

February 2012 has been the month of Jeremy Lin.

Before it started, the life of the New York Knicks point guard had been the book of the obscure toiler.

As a high school senior, he led his team to a state title but received no scholarship offers. In college, he was a finalist for the award that goes to the best point guard in the country, but plummeted down draft boards because scouts felt he lacked athleticism. In the NBA, he was cut twice and demoted to the NBA’s version of the minor league four times.

Perhaps most famously, he signed with the Knicks in December, but was stuck as the third string point guard, behind mediocre-performing but proven veterans. He did this without a home of his own, sleeping on his brother’s couch.

After going 2-11 since Jan. 12, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni decided to give Lin a run-out against the New Jersey Nets.

Lin had 25 points and 7 assists. The Knicks won. D’Antoni started him the next game. He had 28 points and 8 assists. The Knicks won again. He kept starting, oftentimes outdueling high profile, highly-drafted point guards. The Knicks kept winning. People in the media started talking. Someone, somewhere, decided the story could only be described as, “Linsanity.” It caught on. In less than 20 days, Lin has led the Knicks to an 8-2 record, gained one of the largest fan bases in the history of sports, which includes nearly 500,000 Twittter followers, and guaranteed his NBA contract.

We wouldn’t love the Jeremy Lin story so much, though, if not for all the other days during which he worked to make himself a great player. No one noticed him during those days, but he needed them to reach the last 20. Even if the Knicks had played a little better and we did not know who Jeremy Lin was, he would still be just as good as people know he is now.

We can all reach success, at least the kind of success Jeremy Lin achieved before he was a global phenomenon.

It’s possible that whether we want to lead our teams in scoring, get a 4.0, or become leaders in our fields of study, we can do those things.

But it’s also possible that external circumstances could prevent us from reaching exactly the ends we had in mind. Whether we reach our goals or not, persevering toward them can, in some senses, be where success really lies.

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