If you are reading this, then half of the battle has already been won, because deep down you know this is true. These signs are displayed in various places in our football field house. “You are born to be special”, has been a staple in our program for years. Consistent messaging is key in any organization and we have always felt this statement was important for many reasons. Young people are in a critical stage of discovering their identity and purpose. As I have gotten older, I have learned that the closer than I stay connected to my identity, the more my purpose becomes a reality. I asked the team the other day, “What are the 2 most important words on this sign?” They immediately answered with answers opposite of the needed response. (Yes, we love trick questions to drive home a point) Their answers varied from special, born, you, and are. Although these are important, I told them that the most important words were “TO BE.” Because the question isn’t if “You Are Born Special”… It is are you going “TO BE”. That each of you has already been created with a unique set of gifts. If you do not believe it, then look at your hands, how is that out of 7 billion people on earth, you are the only one with those exact finger prints? That “TO BE” has to do with our actions, not with our capability. That our habits and choices has more to do with our gifts than our genetic makeup. The question is not if you are special, but what are you going to do with your time, resources, and gifts. Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” However, we act as if this statement is something mystical that only fate can decide for the specially selected individuals. I want to tell you that if this is your mindset, then it is totally false. I have seen people make a difference from all backgrounds, adversities, and socio-economic status. This season will be my 23rd year and I want to share 23 truths I have learned over the years:
1) I find peace in the truth of my creation, gifts, and identity in God’s word:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:13-14
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:7
2) You may not know your purpose yet, but you do know right from wrong. Right done consistently will not only protect you, but will open many doors of opportunity.
3) There are many enemies of “TO BE” which include laziness, self-doubt, apathy, fear, selfishness, envy, and surrender. Each of these opponents’ primary objective is to produce your future regret.
4) Every time you do what is hard instead of easy, courageous instead of selfish, excellent instead of mediocre, and answer that knot in your gut to help; you write a covenant on your heart. A standard that you promise to live by….. I met a gentlemen the other day and as we walked and talked, he picked up every piece of trash in the parking lot. He didn’t say a word about it, he just did it.
5) We tend to correlate “Being Special” with worldly rewards such as status, likes, money, power, etc. The true rewards of “Being Special” cannot be taken away unless you let them. The rewards of honor, self-respect, self-confidence, self-discovery, sharing our gifts, and making a difference.
6) The hardest thing in the world is to be ourselves. We concentrate way too much on fitting in vs sticking out. The most successful people realize that standing alone and not being socially acceptable is necessary some times.
7) That the secret “TO BE” is not as much about using our own abilities but staying in connection with God’s ability. God gives us our spirit and we access the fruits of it when we live in him.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” – Galatians 5:22-23
8) That fear is one big joke and lie…. That fear is nothing more than an emotion trying to rob us of “TO BE.” The farther we run, the bigger fear becomes, but it gets smaller the closer we get to it. That I have felt the most alive when facing my fears. That the reward for facing our adversity is freedom from future fears. That jumping that hurdle gives you added confidence to be all you can be. That facing our fears gives us more courage for the next challenge, because trust me, the challenges only cease if you do.
9) You may not know what to do in life yet, but you do know what lights you on fire. Take consistent steps in that direction. Do not reject people that believe in you and give you opportunities. You are only as good as your experiences, do not back down from them. There are people in your life that have experienced more than you, do not reject their wisdom.
10) Involve yourself with other people doing right, and involve yourself in something bigger than yourself. You will find your greatest value when you are unselfish and commit to a common goal. The love of your team will help defeat your fear. The greatest teams have a natural shame not to let each other down. Being a part of a great team will become more about performing for others than yourself.
11) TO BE a conqueror instead of a victim. Victims are real in this world and many people are going through tragedy. However, victim-hood is a choice, and a lifestyle many choose as a permanent living condition. Marcus Aurelius said, “It is disgraceful for the soul to give up when the body is still going strong.”
12) Victims are experts in living in the past, but believers in “TO BE” live in TOday and TOmorrow
13) There are way too many people living like hermits in a vicious cycle of self-preservation mode. We need “TO BE” people to create a new cycle for the next generation.
14) The human body is amazing…. We cannot correlate our long term capability with our current threshold. When we have high standards and are consistently challenged; our body and mind will grow and adapt.
15) That failure is not an enemy, a sign to quit, or a message that you do not measure up. Failure is only a part of your growth process. I did not learn my multiplication tables by getting every problem right every single time. Learn to choke the negative and to fail forward…
16) We cannot get lost in envy and questioning why some people get what they do not deserve. I have questioned this many times, let it dominate my mind, and felt defeated by this unjust fact. There are many people that are gaining great worldly rewards that do not have virtues. We also cannot adapt to unethical ways just because some get away with it and seem successful.
“There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve.” -Ecclesiastes 8:14
17) You must move….. The key to living a life of purpose is to stay in motion. We all need times of rest, but we feel the most fulfilled when we are helping others or moving toward a goal. It is said that “Destiny awards the starters and fortune awards the driven.”
18) We are filled with potential… However, some revel in what they could be, what people tell them, and they wear this like a badge of honor. “TO BE” people know the difference between kinetic and potential energy. They do not waste their mental energy on their potential, they walk the walk.
19) That the only way to live an easier life is to do hard things consistently. That a harder life is correlated by only doing easy things.
20) Sacrifice is not showing up, doing what is expected, or following rules. Those things are the bare minimum and a standard for anyone in the organization. The most successful people I know, do the most, and sacrifice the most for the team or their development. There is not a magic formula to highly productive people. They do the extra, they do more than expected, and they do it consistently.
21) Mastery never happens in the moment. When I got into coaching, I always felt like I had so much to say, but was also scared to death to speak in front of others. Today, I do not think twice about it, and definitely feel like I am an above-average communicator. According to Anders Ericsson, it takes 10,000 hours to master anything and become a world class performer. So give yourself some grace and keep getting after it.
22) It is time “TO BE”: consistent, courageous, to do right, to help others, to work hard, to join a worthy cause, self-disciplined, accountable, a real friend, coachable, and convicted.
23) Finally, in the words of William Shakespeare in Hamlet; ‘To be or not to be, that is the question.” A reminder from the words of William Wallace, “Every man dies but not every man truly lives.” And if I took all of this and rephrased the sign in our field house, “You Are Born To Be Special”, it would read:
“You were born with a unique gift TO BE maximized to the fullest. So DEMAND EXCELLENCE“