The Fifth Wednesday

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Samuel R. Henninger,
J.D. Candidate, 2019 | The University of Tennessee College of Law

You’re tired. One of the starters is skipping. The season doesn’t begin for two more months. You’ve gone every day so far. Coach allows a few skip days. A little rest now would be good. You’ll run better tomorrow if you don’t go today.

This is what you tell yourself before the fifth Wednesday of basketball conditioning. Everybody makes it to the first few days of conditioning; everybody attends the last few days. But everybody—from the starters to the role players—considers skipping the fifth Wednesday. And all people have this day: even if they didn’t participate in fall basketball conditioning with Coach Greseth at Wesley Chapel High School.

If you are a leader, the fifth Wednesday is your day. It’s the day that nobody marks on the calendar, but it’s the most important day of the year. The gains that make the difference between winning and losing only occur on this day. This is your only chance to set the bar at a higher level—when apathy hits its peak. And you set the example for others to fight the apathy by going to work on the fifth Wednesday.

Leadership is convincing people to do something because they want to do it. People will only listen to somebody who they trust: somebody who can understand their situation. To get that, you prove it by showing up on the fifth Wednesday. No inspirational speech about leadership can make up for skipping the chance to run outdoor suicides in the Florida sun with your team on this day. On the seemingly most irrelevant day of the year—when taking a day off has no immediate bad consequence—you decide to go to work instead. Your own demonstrated willingness to sacrifice for the team encourages others to do the same.

As Albert Einstein said, “setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” Challenge yourself to set the example; indeed, seek out every fifth Wednesday that you can find. This will not only make you a better person but also help those around you.

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