‘I want you to believe in yourselves’
After his first three years of coaching the Creighton women’s basketball team, head coach Jim Flanery averaged 22 wins and nine loses per season, but during his fourth year, Flanery coached a nearly career-ending season: a 13-game losing streak and an overall record of eight wins and 21 loses.
From this experience and others, Flanery has learned to be grateful, to reflect on mistakes and to believe in himself and his abilities. The 1983 Guthrie Center graduate shared these three pieces of wisdom with 56 graduating seniors at the Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center Commencement Ceremony on May 20.
“There are times when you need to step back and think about the growth that you’ve experienced,” Flanery told graduates. “For every time that you had to go through something, you learned something from it, and you became a little more resilient and a little bit more resourceful. That’s really a big part of why you’re sitting here today.”
Flanery’s first piece of advice was to be grateful for every opportunity, even those that present a challenge.
“Be grateful that things aren’t always easy because that is a source of growth,” he said. “I hope that you understand that as tough as a day may be for you or a month or a year, there are other people going through harder things.”
As an example, Flanery read a letter written by 27-year-old Holly Butcher of Australia the day before she passed away from cancer.
“Those times you are whining about ridiculous things, just think about someone who is really facing a problem,” Butcher’s letter reads. “Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it.”
Flanery’s second piece of wisdom was to reflect on mistakes and learn what needs to be done to change for the better.
During his fourth year of coaching, when his team struggled to win games, Flanery explained that he did a lot of reflecting. He determined that the problem was his poor management of his staff. While he didn’t desire to hear criticism or lose his job, Flanery realized that in order to improve and fix weaknesses, criticism and self-reflection are necessary.
“It’s important to be reflective because it’s going to work toward your self-improvement,” he explained. “It’s a big source of growth.”
Flanery also told graduates that they would need to reflect on priorities and determine the most important aspects of their lives. This will involve shortchanging other areas to create enough time for what is truly important.
Flanery’s final piece of advice was to believe. As a coach, he understands that he must believe in himself and his knowledge to be successful and win games.
“I want you to believe in yourselves,” he said. “You have to find what it is in your life that you really believe you can be good at.”
Following his advice, Flanery shared his thoughts on the class song, “Five More Minutes” by Scotty McCreery. In the song, the narrator wishes he had a pause button so that he could have more time doing the things he loves with people he cares about.
Flanery used the idea of the pause button throughout his speech, encouraging graduates to pause and reflect on where they are today and how they got there. He concluded his speech with this thought and returned to his ideas of gratitude, reflection and belief.
“I hope I’ve given you some tools today. I hope you enjoy the heck out of this day. I hope you hug your parents. I hope you tell them you love them. I hope you thank the people who helped you get here,” he said. “Congratulations, and go do it.”