One hundred lifetimes ago, there were 12.3 seconds left on the clock that meant everything to me. I was standing with my teammates, hands on knees, taking deep breaths as our coach yelled out a play above the sound of a playoff game crowd. We were down by 2 points. The last of his instructions were, “Jenn, take your shot.”
The play went as expected; the three-point shot left my hand, just as it had thousands of times before – often with the moon as my light and the sound of the basketball bouncing on the concrete as my soundtrack.
I began to run backwards, ready to defend the last few seconds. Except the ball didn’t swish through the net as anticipated. Instead the ball rolled around the hoop, three times.
My eyes went from the hoop, to the clock, back to the hoop. I can still feel the exact feeling of momentary disbelief in the exact spot in my chest while writing this, all these years later.
When the ball finally ended its orbit, spiraling out on the 4th time around and our opponent grabbing the rebound with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, I fell to my knees in shock.
How could something I’d done so many times before not work at the moment it most needed to? What had all of the practices, five mile runs while dribbling a basketball, and moonlit sessions been for, if not to propel us forward?
About a year later, my face burned scarlet as a professor read aloud my paper to the 150 or so other students in the class. We’d been asked to write about a betrayal that changed us. I didn’t know what else to write about except that moment.
In the margins of that essay, he’d written the words, “You were born to write. Keep writing, even after you don’t make the shot. Especially (underlined three times) when you don’t make the shot.”
There are moments that define us, but they usually aren’t the moments we expect they’ll be
There aren’t many words left to describe 2020 so far, and it’s only halfway through.
When events began to cancel, and it became clear that our biggest event of the year wouldn’t be held in person, there was an incredible transition to deliver something unique and thoughtful. Something that would tell the countless stories of exactly how much our partners and customers have done in the face of the unthinkable – because those stories are remarkable.
I’ve never seen people work so hard, so faithfully, and with so much excitement.
But when the moment arrived, instead of watching the ball swish through the net, we instead watched the ball spin around and around, the seconds on the clock ticking by, as teammates across the world were realizing in real-time that things weren’t going according to plan.
Of course there were immediate responses deriding the effort; that’s to be expected.
But the thing about momentum is that it shifts, quickly. And the thing about experience is that it matters, immensely.
In the first 3 minutes, @aliciatillman tells a story of people who never give up, use their powers for good, and bring that spirit to all they do. #SAPPHIRENOW didn't go as planned Monday, but the event is about the amazing things SAP is doing, & those remain. #TogetherWeGotThis https://t.co/qROUXdhbDZ
— Jenn VandeZande (@jennvzande) June 16, 2020
And the thing about SAP is that while it wields incredible technological power, that power is derived thanks to incredible people.
People who you’d want on your side not only to help you flourish and grow, but people who you’d especially want on your side when hope is a fading light.
There are not better human beings to count on when every moment matters – brilliant, driven, empathetic, forever forging forward – these are my colleagues. This is SAP.
Humanity means being human. It means meeting daunting tasks with courage and conviction. It means learning and growing and learning anew. It means challenges and triumphs and highs and lows.
And when you’re talking the best of humanity, it means the perseverance to fight through what might crush others. It means having the wisdom and know-how and purpose to keep going.
It means tackling problems that seem impossible, the will to overcome the unimaginable, the humility to accept responsibility, and a heart big enough to make room for everyone.
When the unthinkable happens, true leaders emerge
The ability to discover and implement solutions for problems that merely months ago would have been inconceivable can only be achieved by a trusted organization with experience, depth, and resilience.
If a worldwide pandemic breaks out, and a nation has over 120,000 citizens struggling to get home, who do you contact to create a solution in less than 24 hours to facilitate this? SAP.
When the most vulnerable among us are food insecure, who can you partner with to make sure they’re fed? SAP.
When employees are experiencing high anxiety and you want to support their mental health, who can you trust to care for the people that work for you? SAP.
When the world is weeping and is in need of strong leaders for tomorrow, who can foster the relationships to empower the next generation? SAP.
As inequities become clear and you want to equalize the world through education, who can help do that? SAP.
When you need to track the machines necessary to keep people breathing, who has the ability to allow manufacturers, governments, and hospitals to coordinate the effort? SAP.
When the distribution of PPEs has never been more critical, who does a country count on to deliver a solution in less than a week? SAP.
When auto manufacturers see their plants sidelined, who supplies the technology to keep employees safe and lines running? SAP.
If you’re looking for a company that can steer you through this period of uncertainty and then help you recover and thrive in the future, who stands above the rest? SAP.
These are just a few of the proofs of the power of SAP – there are countless more of them to be discovered, and most likely many that may never be told. Because we don’t do it for the exposure, or the press, or the glory.
— Alicia Tillman (@aliciatillman) June 17, 2020
We do it to better humanity and to make the world a better place for everyone.
We keep going when the odds are unlikely, and we come up with the ideas that create a brighter tomorrow, day after day, week after week, year after year, for over 45 years now, no matter what.
It’s not the spotlight or accolades that truly exemplify or shape us; it’s what we do in the moments away from those moments.
It’s how we plan, how we practice, and how we persevere.
It’s a basketball bouncing on a cement court at midnight.
It’s a heart hoping, then breaking, then hoping again.
It’s giving it your all, every time, on every occasion.
It’s ignoring the critics and shooting for the moon.
It’s rising after a fall.
It’s unceasing devotion to being the best we can be, and having an appreciation for each opportunity and moment.
It’s how the best run.
And the best run SAP.