What's the difference between VCU / UofR & Charlie Sheen?

Sheen thinks he's winning, but lost. And VCU and UofR may have thought they lost, but they won.

That said, tonight Butler and UConn face off for the NCAA Men's Championship. I gotta admit I'm not looking forward to the game after the departure of VCU.

I'm not even a Ram, or a VCU graduate for that matter, but I fully embraced the run (along with U of R's Sweet 16 appearance). It's going to be painful watching the game, knowing how close VCU came to being in the game.

I can't imagine how hard it is on the players and the coaches. "We believe" became a mantra, and no one believed more than those players and coaches. But no matter how deeply they believed, it didn't happen, and it might be easy for them to feel as if they failed.

Because, after all, isn’t anything possible? I mean, shoot, not long ago, many political observers thought we wouldn't see an African-American as president in our lifetime. Yet, we have Barack Obama, who is so recent a development that my spell check still flags his first name (come on Gates, get with the program!).

On American Idol a couple years ago, a regular guy from Richmond, Va. walked in off the street and walked out with a major record deal. In this day and age, anything truly is possible.

But, as we are painfully reminded in the early weeks of every American Idol season…Anything may be possible, but not everything is probable.

But wait! Is it acceptable in our culture to say "not everything is possible"? Not according to most motivational speakers, self-improvement books, women's magazines, management gurus, do-it-yourself home improvement television shows and Victoria's Secret catalogs, it's not.

I've seen personally the power of positive thinking. In 1988 I turned my life around, going from a job-hopping, heavy-partying, beach bum with no plan for my future (or even for my day) to a motivated professional-to-be, on my way to graduate school and a real career. How did I do it, you probably didn't ask? To quote Sister Hazel: "If you want to change your life, change your mind."

To change my mind, I listened to Dennis Waitley's "Psychology of Winning" about 1,000 times (as it happens, while crossing the Atlantic in a small sailboat). Between the positive-thinking motivational program and the sailing journey, which was a cold, wet and inescapable living metaphor for long-term goal setting and daily action, I changed my life.

So for me, entertaining the idea that "anything may not be possible" feels like telling the regulars at an AA meeting that you've been spiking the coffee for the last three months. It is an insidious, foundation-shaking, confidence-rattling shock.

But is anything really possible? Ask all-time greatest basketball player (and professional baseball failure) Michael Jordan. Or ask war-hero and Senator (and three-time presidential candidate failure) Bob Dole.

Anything is possible. But not everything is probable.

Two of America's greatest minds have weighed in on this subject. Henry David Thoreau wrote, "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." But notice that Thoreau says "elevate his life," not "perfect his life." That's an important distinction.

And Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The important thing in life is not where we are, but in what direction we are moving."

I doubt there is a Ram fan or Spider fan who thinks their teams failed in their quests this year, but I'm sure the players and coaches get twinges or worse. I just hope they can see the big picture, the magnitude of their achievements, the direction they are moving their programs, and the way that, through their conscious endeavor, they elevated not only their lives but the entire Richmond area.

Congratulations Rams and Spiders!.