Many seasons ago, Coach Steve Spurrier led the Duke Blue Devils to a glorious ACC Football Championship. That’s right, the “Old Ball Coach” achieved legendary status at Duke years before he went on to fame and fortune.
Back in those days, there were three types of football players at Duke. The Varsity football players, who earned scholarships and played for glory in front of adoring fans. The Club football players, who strapped on their pads and banged heads for the love of the game. And the Quad football players, who drank a lot of beer and tried to relive their high school glory on sunny days in the middle of campus.
In the latter category was a guy by the name of Dembo Hearns. If the temperature was above 50 degrees, Dembo was out on the lawn, taking snaps and running routes. He would make acrobatic catches and attract the attention of students as they strolled across campus.
Dembo was quite possibly the best athlete in the school. And while he desperately wanted to play Varsity football, he never actually tried out for the team! Rather than risk the humiliation of getting cut, Dembo lived in the bubble world of quad football. There was no downside.
But somewhere in the recesses of his mind, Dembo thought his status as “King of the Quad” could actually attract the attention of the Varsity football staff.
Until one day his bubble popped.
After a particularly impressive catch in the corner of the lawn, Dembo celebrated with his teammates and danced in the makeshift end zone. A random student crossing the campus witnessed the theatrical antics and shouted out:
“Coach Spurrier doesn’t care about your sweet catch on the quad!”
Boom goes the dynamite.
Dembo was never going to make the Varsity team without trying out. He was never going realize his dream without putting something on the line. He was never going to achieve his goals without risking rejection and humiliation.
He was never going to taste real victory without daring to fail.
And so it is with all of us.
Success Comes Through Action
In our work lives, we can’t wait around for someone else to discover our talent and ideas. We have to drive success with our own action!
If we write a business plan, we have to aggressively market our concept. Venture capital isn’t going to hunt us down and fund it. If we have a suggestion about how to improve the office, we have to proactively share with upper management. If not us, then who? If we excel in presentation skills, we have to take the lead in the meeting. We have the ability to positively impact the sale.
Nobody is going out of their way to make our dreams come true. We have to own it and take control. We have to step out from the shadows and into the bright spotlight. We have to embrace the possibility of failure in order to achieve success!
We Can’t Make the Team Without Trying Out
The same is true in our personal lives. We have so much to offer. We are all capable of forging lasting friendships and building meaningful relationships. But the people closest to us can’t read our minds. We have to actively communicate how we feel. We have to share our true emotions and opinions.
It could lead to rejection or hurt feelings, but tight bonds are never formed in the abstract. Conversations in our head don’t build relationships. We have to risk humiliation in order to achieve meaningful partnerships.
We can’t wait for someone to make the first move. We won’t make the team if we hide on the sidelines!
An Active Loss is Better Than a Passive Tie
But what if we actively try out and get steamrolled in the process. Our business plan fails. Our suggestions are ignored. Our presentation tanks. Our relationship crumbles. We launch ourselves into the game but lose the battle.
At least we have given ourselves a chance at success. At least we have tested our abilities. At least we have had the opportunity to leave it all on the field.
Imagine if we had never tried in the first place? Imagine if we lived our lives on the sidelines? Imagine a life in which failure is an upgrade?
We Have to Go Out and Make It Happen
Achieving our goals and dreams is not easy. It requires hard work and enormous sacrifice. It requires sustained resilience and incredible will power. It requires the ability to stretch far beyond our comfort zone.
Life is for the bold and the active. If we want to win, we have to fight!
People aren’t walking around handing out dreams like flyers on the street corner.
Dembo Hearns never achieved his dreams because Coach Spurrier doesn’t recruit on the quad.
We can’t sit around waiting for something to happen. We have to put everything on the line and make it happen!
Until next week, keep smiling!