4.12.2010

Strategize Life As A Basketball Game


Andy Lyons/Getty Images
When Hayward let it fly from midcourt, the greatest ending in sports history was within reach

* A similar post is also published at Asian Philanthropy Forum

Last Monday night, I watched the NCAA basketball national championship game on TV. Duke beat Butler 61 to 59. It was a very exciting game and the winner wasn’t determined until the final buzzer sounded. Butler, lead by a young and unknown coach, was an underdog throughout most of the tournament, while Duke, lead by the famous coach K, has heavily favored to win.
As I sat there watching the teams play, I thought about what I learned from Dr. Carter Tseng at Monte Jade’s event in early April -- life is like a basketball game.


Carter is an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. I got to know him through my work at The Asia Foundation and Give2Asia, where he serves as a trustee. I have the fortune to see first-hand how passionate, sincere, and generous Carter is. He is generous not only with his charitable donations, but also with his time, wisdom, talent, and his ability to inspire people.

The audience that completely packed Monte Jade’s Chancellor Tien Forum lecture room listened carefully as he talked about how to “Seize the China Opportunity; Create a Brighter Future”. The 3 hour talk was so captivating that it felt like only 30 minutes. When he said life is like a basketball game, I was really inspired. He said you can be playing well and winning in the first half, but if you do not use the half time break wisely, or do not play the second half well, you would still finish up the game of your life as a loser.

Take him for example, he worked very hard and was also very fortunate to accomplish the goals of his first half game by the age of 45. He then took the time to travel and spend time doing things to improve his quality of life. After that, he felt that something was missing and that he had the responsibilities to accomplish some other missions beyond making a living and enjoying life. That was when he started to become a philanthropist.

Many donors I work with are in the “second half” of the game and are concentrating this portion of their life on philanthropic goals. Other donors are in the first half and are already donating generously. In the game of life, you can determine your own best timing and strategy for giving, but philanthropy is always part of a winning formula in life.

Here is my translation of Carter’s slide about his life as a basketball game:
1. Life’s first half – age 25 to 45
(a) Running around to make a living
(b) Work to make money
2. Life’s half time break – age 45 to 55
(a) Improve the quality of life
(b) Work to realize interests
3. Life’s second half – age 55+
(a) Pursuit the meaning of life
(b) Work toward the ideal world

* Link to download Carter’s speech presentations (mostly in Chinese).

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