Are You Ready for Opportunity
When It Strikes?

You may not recall the name “Jason McElwain,” but you may remember the event that led to President George W. Bush, Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, and others wanting to meet him.

It only took four minutes and 19 seconds, and it occurred on February 15, 2006, at Greece Athena High School in Greece, New York.

Seventeen-year-old Jason, who is autistic, was the 5’ 6” manager of the high school basketball team. He took stats, helped with drills, and got the guys ready to go before game time.

Coach Jim Johnson told Jason that if the team got ahead by enough points in the final game of the season, he would put him in.

With Greece Athena having a double-digit lead over Spencerport High School, Jason got the call. The crowd roared their approval.

His first and second shots missed the mark. That’s when something special started to happen.

With three minutes and 12 seconds to go, he made his first three-pointer. Then they just kept going in, the crowd getting more frenzied with each successive basket. His last three-pointer came right at the buzzer.

In his first and only varsity basketball game Jason went seven for 13 — shooting six for 10 from the three-point range. In total, he scored 20 points and was the game’s high scorer.

There are many great lessons to be mined from Jason’s story. Here are three …

  1. You’re limited only by the limitations you impose on yourself.

    Jason completed his GED and has plans to go to college. He travels across the United States to raise funds for autism research. He’s an accomplished runner and, having qualified, has plans to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon. In his spare time he volunteers for the Greece Athena boys cross country and basketball teams. He also works part-time at Wegmans Food Market in his hometown.

    As a writer, are you putting limits on yourself? On the type of copy you can write? How much you can charge and earn? On what type of clients you can attract to your business? Often the cure is a self-confidence injection. For some tips on how to boost your self-confidence, read Sid Smith’s article, “5 Tips for Greater Self-Confidence.”

  2. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t get discouraged. Try again.

    Jason’s first two shots missed their mark. If he had let this get him down, he may not have accomplished his amazing feat.

    Just like basketball, nobody becomes a superstar writer overnight. Stay in the game and keep taking your shots, and good things will happen.

  3. Make sure you’re well-prepared for when opportunity strikes.

    One could easily look at what Jason accomplished that day and say the sun, moon and stars were aligned just right. But that wasn’t the case at all, as Jason confirms in this excerpt from an interview with ESPNHS magazine …

    “That season, I would put up 500 shots a day. I didn’t know I was ever going to play until three days before the game, but I still shot 500 times a day. So I hope other people know that you can accomplish anything. Just don’t give up.”

    There’s an important lesson here for writers and marketers. Don’t wait for a reason; prepare and educate yourself each and every day of your life. Live your life always being in “never stop learning” mode, so you’re always ready for when opportunity strikes.

Are you placing limits on yourself? Are you consistently taking your “500 shots a day”? Share your thoughts and comments here.

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Published: November 19, 2013

3 Responses to “Are You Ready for Opportunity When It Strikes?”

  1. After 40 years as a health care professional, I am approaching this new (to me) program as a creative writing class. I look forward to having the skills to jump right in and begin my new career as a copywriter. I find the articles to be informative and full of encouragement to get started right out of the gate with confidence! As I hone my new skills I look forward to the ongoing support of the AWAI community!

    RA SheetsNovember 20, 2013 at 3:01 am

  2. John,

    Thank you for this story and how it relates to our quests to become good copywriters...or to anything else we aspire to!

    Incredibly inspiring story and wonderfully encouraging words by you.

    Thank you.

    Larryn GNovember 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

  3. Thanks John for that reminder. Jason's story is a perfect example of working every day to be ready when your opportunities arise. Very inspirational.
    Dan F.

    Guest (Dan Fahlgren)March 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

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