Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Going for the Gold!

On Saturday night I watched the men’s basketball team beat an unbeaten, conference leading team in a hard fought Homecoming game. I don’t know about the players but those of us in the stands were exhausted – it’s hard work screaming and yelling! Of course the players were tired, but they played full out until the very end. As I watched them I thought about a different game a few years ago. At that time, many players were injured and there was little or no time for the players to catch their breath. They played hard that night as well, but they lost anyway during a very tough season. Watching them that night, I realized again one of the hard realities of life – it doesn’t matter how hard you work, how well you prepare, or how determined you are, sometimes you don’t win the game.

We see it over and over in the Olympics. The American ice dance team skated the performance of a lifetime. They would probably have won the gold medal any night but Monday because the Canadian team skated to perfection. I’ve been following Canadian ski-cross racer Chris Del Bosco because I know his sister, a former student from SMU. Sunday, he wasn’t satisfied with bronze and took a risk, didn’t make the jump well and with a hard crash ended up in fourth place – no medal for Chris.

It’s true for all of us, not just athletes. Sometimes our proposal doesn’t get funded, no matter how well prepared. Sometimes we don’t get the promotion, no matter how well our interview went. The reality is that no matter how hard we prepare, how stellar our performance, we can’t control the outcome. We may have done all the best practice in the world, be having a great season, and then compete against a team that has its best night ever, or skate against a pair that turns in their top performance. We submit a great proposal for new funding on the day budget cuts are announced or we have the best interview we’ve ever had and the other candidate has a great interview too – and ten more years of experience. The outcome is not in our control.

Like I told that group of students struggling through a difficult basketball season, there’s only one thing we can control in this equation – ourselves. I can choose to turn in my best work every time or to cut corners. Sometimes I’ll be the only one who knows the difference, but I will know. I can choose to try to reach for the top or I can settle for something less, it’s completely up to me. But there is only one way to have a shot at the gold medal or the conference championship or the promotion and that’s to do your best work, every day, every week, all year long.

The result may not be up to you, but you can choose whether or not you bring a championship attitude to every thing you do. So, are you going to go for the gold?

Take care,


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