Let’s make this clear…. This article is not about minimizing the need to win. Winning on the field, in business, or in any area of life, is what helps create more value for ourselves. This is about looking beyond that given fact. A little over a year ago, I was riding home after experiencing a heart breaking loss in the State Championship Game. I had so many thoughts going through my head….. God, why did you bring us here to experience this kind of pain? Will I be capable of getting over this to coach again…. Is coaching still my purpose in this life? There has to be more to my life than winning or losing this game? We had experienced a lot of success during the season, but yet after a terrible loss, I was questioning everything.
Since that moment, I have spoken with several coaches that have gone through that same thought process. The reasons and circumstances are different, but the emotions are all the same. I have also heard numerous stories of people that have won at a high level and are asking the same questions. That even in winning, it is amazing how we cannot feel significant. How many times have we heard champions talk of this mindset after the moment. In a 2005 interview with Tom Brady after he had won 3 Super Bowls, Brady said “I think, God, it’s got to be more than this, I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” The common thread is that everyone is craving value, seeking a feeling of significance, and a greater purpose. That is a hard task because there is so much emphasis on winning, results, and gaining a competitive edge. I mean it is how the human species has survived on this earth. Natural selection, survival of the fittest, I mean winning is important….. So again, I do not want to minimize winning, since winning and results are how we rise, provide, and are valued in this world. Winning also provides a contagious spirit and energy for our fans and community.
However, there is a finality with winning and losing… Every game and season has an ending…..I have learned that our significance and value is found in the vision we have for ourselves. When our greatest vision is winning championships, then our vision ends with the results. I have felt the most significant when I have a living vision for something greater than any one game or season. So how can one feel no significance while being successful, and another feel significance in the face of failure. Because long term significance cannot be sustained by success alone. It can only be sustained by working toward a long term vision that includes a greater purpose. When the ability to fulfill that vision is not present, then people start questioning the purpose in their position. I had to come to the conclusion that the game I am in, is the one that has no ending…. The one with no real scoreboard…. There is not a scoreboard on impacting people, communities, and leaving the game better. The one of simply being in a constant pursuit of excellence, influence, and legacy. On a greater scale, winning is really fuel for a greater purpose and mile markers for greater significance. Winning helps provide a greater platform, credibility, and larger circle to impact more people.
A year later, I am rebuilding a program and implementing a whole new vision. I wanted to be in a position where I could bring the most value to the most people. People that are results driven will not understand the career risks that are taken by a purpose driven person. Our vision here is much bigger than winning, it is about impacting an entire community. Our on-field results so far have been difficult, but our vision cannot die with any one loss. We are seeing a lot of internal growth of mindset and competitive spirit. However, what is worse than not winning, is not competing for something greater than yourself. But what is greater than winning? What is even more valuable than winning? The pursuit to be the greatest life competitor no matter the circumstance or results. To keep your eyes fixed, even in the midst of painful losses or high emotions of success. When I think of Tom Brady’s quote, I believe he plays for the love of the game, the love of competition, and for his greater impact on the game. In my opinion, the championship is the just the pursuit in order to carry out his greater purpose. The pursuit of excellence in all that we do…..
We can’t play to just win, we have to play to be something greater than winning… Are you playing for the game that ends, or the game that never ends? Are you in the long game or the short game? What do we gain in the pursuit of winning that is greater than winning…Seeking to be the greatest competitor gives you the ability to gain your greatest identity, calling, perspective, and growth. ,
Greatest Competitor: Think about what gravitates you to watch your favorite athletes. It is more than just pure athletic ability and high level performance. There is something different about them that sets them apart. That difference is a relentless warrior spirit, no matter the result or circumstance. Every time we watch them, we can always count on that mindset to show up. Today, we are in a society where the words, “Do you best” are often used. We unintentionally use “Do your best” as a false statement; it becomes a message of an excuse to be below par or passive. As long as someone else says “You did your best”, then our performance is justified by another’s low expectations of us. Bottom line, what are your personal expectations and drive?… “Doing your best”, means you play better than the last time, every time out. Losing is not okay or justified, but what is worse is to not compete at your highest level. Leave no doubt who the hardest worker is, who prepared the most, that you have relentless hustle in every drill, fight through adversity, etc…. There is more in us than we think, and we should be in pursuit of our unknown ability. Our standards should constantly raise.
Greatest Identity: You discover your truest self in your boldest pursuit, most noble cause, and most trying effort. As coaches say, “We find out what we are made of.” The Spartans, one of the greatest fighting forces ever, said to “Stay in the Fight”; the Navy Seals say “Never Out of the Fight.” The further we get away from why we started, the more we forget why we started. We are constantly being judged by those not in the arena, and we can let our identity sway with their opinion. We have seen people make personal assumptions or assessments of coaches based on success. Success can overshadow a lot of flaws, and unjustifiably magnify positive traits. While failure can open up every flaw, and turn your positive traits against you. For example; a class act coach can be defined as too nice and soft if losing, but running a first class program if winning. No Matter What…. Continue to Fight The Good Fight… Continue to effect people in a positive way. …. Keep your eyes on your true identity regardless of how you feel. Once you have been deep in the fight, you know that you are a warrior.… Never let go of that relentless warrior spirit to make a difference….
Greatest Calling: The enemy of peace is not losing football games. The enemy would like for you to take failure and make you doubt the calling for your life. He would also like to take success and trick you into winning at all costs and being self-absorbed. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. We find our greatest calling when we have a relentless warrior spirit that goes beyond winning. We find our peace in the pursuit of a greater cause, of our participation in this game, and what we wish to leave behind. Are we planting in the orchard or are we only here to take its fruit?? Am I making it better for the next generation? In 1675, Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” God reveals his greatest plans when we are in the greatest pursuit. 3 Daily Questions: Did I work to become better, did I work to make someone else better, and did I work to make this place better? You cannot put a price tag on changing a life. The greatest calling is greater than winning, it is great influence and real legacy.
Greatest Perspective: Losing forces you to analyze everything in the organization. While winning can trick you into building more on the positives, than analyzing improvements and details. The greatest coaches can analyze at great detail, no matter if it is a win or a loss. Their relentless warrior spirit forces them to analyze and critique everything in the performance to improve. Everything matters all the time, and they do not become blinded by results. They also understand that with distance comes perspective. That the further you get way from pain or success, the more it becomes about what you learned. People that relish in success or wallow in pity, are choosing to live self-absorbed or in a pit of misery. Rabih Alameddine in ‘The Hakawati’ said, “What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little…” The further you get away from success, pain, disappointment, etc…. the more we gain a new perspective, what you have learned, grace, a humble attitude, improvements, etc…. Only in the relentless pursuit of a worthy cause, do we have a consistent and greater perspective.
Greatest Growth: The greatest competitor does not allow oneself to live in a comfort zone… That is just not apart of the DNA in relation to a relentless warrior spirit. I have heard many people that feel miserable say, ‘That they do not feel like they are growing.” However, these are the same people that are constantly seeking a life of comfort. We may want to live in this state, but we discover that the opposite happens. We may need a break sometimes, but we cannot live there. Over time, we become miserable because we are stuck living in our comfort zone…. We feel more significant when we are stretching… We feel more valuable when we are growing. In Isaiah 66:22 the Lord says,”I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream.” Peace is not described as a lake of still water, it is described as a river…. moving water…. and with moving water, new paths are forged, rocks are smoothed, and floods can create new bodies of water… How are you looking to grow, create, improve, stretch and constantly challenge yourself? Always remember that, “Maximizing the now, equals maximizing your future.”
Seek to be more than a winner, seek to be the greatest competitor, influencer, and difference maker that we can possibly be…
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are ahead. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:13-14
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, October 24). Standing on the shoulders of giants. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:11, October 28, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Standing_on_the_shoulders_of_giants&oldid=1051656107