No pain, No gain

This photo was taken at the height of my basketball career.  At the YMCA, my opponents went down in a blaze of glory as I dominated the court like Goliath on a rampage against David.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there; in fact, by the time I was a seventh grader, averaging approximately 30 seconds every fourth quarter and two terrific points per season, I was shooting the ball over the goal from the three point line.

I became a cheerleader instead.

I like sports, always have – not watching them on Sundays, mind you, but I like playing them or screaming loud at Refs on behalf of someone I love.  Back in grade school, middle school, and even high school, we had a little something called “P.E.” which stands for Physical Education.  And while I never understood the point of this class, I suppose there were plenty of people who didn’t understand the point of or my love for Calculus.

Anyway, in addition to dodge ball, basketball, volleyball, and other ways to embarrass kids, we had to take fitness tests in these classes.  Perhaps you remember such tests:  The sit and reach, pull-ups, sit-ups and the easily loathed, always despised, horribly dreaded Mile Run.

I purposefully had something happen to me on the track before or during the first lap of Mile Run.  My period would start, my ankle would roll over, my nausea would kick in, but mostly, my period would start.  The truth is, I never once ran a full Mile Run.  Never.  In more than a decade of school, never.  Not once.

I’ve sort of always been this way – if I don’t understand the point of something, if I can not think of a long-term benefit to performing an assignment, I will make moves to eliminate its existence or to sabotage myself before or just after it starts.  Now, its important to clarify that I am not a lazy human full of excuses – I went on to join the Crew Team at my college (we’re talking, hit the water in a skinny mini boat by 5 am and hit the weights at 5 pm for another two hours of hell).

But we’ve all got this side of ourselves – this give up before we try, what’s the point anyway, why even bother, I’d rather be doing anything else side to ourselves.  It boils down to excuses.  Excuses for not trying something we really suck at, desperate fears that we would come in last, be embarrassed, fall short.  The truth is, I just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) finish the Mile Run without walking most of it, coming in close to last, or becoming violently angry and crying. I want to give my all or nothing at all.  And I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten away with giving 60% of my effort and letting people believe it was my 100%.  I don’t like this part of myself.

These days, I am trying to beat my ego, my pride to death.  I’ve learned that one tiny step after another is the real game changer.  I’ve failed so much in the last ten years, it’s nearly impossible to care anymore about failing.  I’ve suffered some serious losses in the game of life, but I have to say, the joy of winning far exceeds the pain of losing.  One win can overshadow a dozen losses.

What’s your excuse?  What areas of your life are you giving half the effort you have to just get the job done?  Are you leading others to believe its your full effort?  Where are you afraid to even try?  Why do we fear coming in last?

Michael Jordan said:  “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

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