There is no better human example of heart, determination, sheer will and passion than high school sports. Every game is played like we should play the game of life, like it is your last game. Be consumed with the knowledge that our legacy will be the answer to this vital question: Did we leave it all, with no regrets, did we leave it ALL on the mats, floor, field, in the pool, or on the court?!!
This week I was privileged enough to witness a 4th quarter comeback in the NJ girls basketball State Championship that brought tears to my eyes. Down 16 points at one point in the 4th quarter the team captain of Middletown South came to the bench and looked into her teammates eyes and screamed at the top of her lungs this is about heart, this is not over, now let’s go!! I believe in that moment there was a seismic shift in their collective minds, one they will never forget: The decision to roll over and quit or stand up and fight until the last whistle. The personnel on either team didn’t change, the coaches didn’t change, yet South came storming back and simply willed themselves to victory, tying it in regulation and winning in overtime. Why was I there? I normally work most Tuesday nights, but for some reason I was placed there to witness this mental toughness, I am consumed with the power of the human mind in every sense. No my kids weren’t playing, no there were no cameras, no sponsors, the winner wasn’t going to receive a penny for their efforts. Sprinting up and down the court, diving on the floor for loose balls, they played for the love of the game and the ability to wake up this morning and say, we gave it all we had and because of that, we won. They did it for all of the sweat filled practices, countless shots made and missed, painful losses, and personal sacrifices. The life lessons of resiliency, leadership, teamwork, performing under pressure are invaluable. The knowledge of how far the human body, mind and spirit can be pushed to accomplish a goal will be something they will take with them long after the final buzzer of their careers sounds off. The experience left a mark on me as I sat back and took in the shrill of the whistles, the roar of the crowds and the signature sounds of squeaking sneakers on a basketball court, I was so moved I felt compelled to write.
I read once that the dream is free, but the journey isn’t. We all must pay a price for all that we wish for in one way shape or form. The realization of any dream is strictly going to be based upon how far you are willing to go, how deep you’re willing to dig, how hard you are willing to push yourself. Now we all say I’m giving it all I’ve got, but be honest with yourself, are you? What price are you willing to pay to see your dream become a reality?
The human brain is designed for one thing and one thing only, survival, so it only makes sense that when things get difficult, painful, scary or uncertain our natural instincts fully engage themselves and we back down. Why are you working so hard? Why are you training so hard? Hey if you keep going like that you’re going to burn out! Take a knee, sit this one out, relax a bit, why are you pushing? why are you pressing? How many times have you heard those words ringing in your ears from either self talk or from someone who loves you? What has changed my life is that where I used to back down and where I used to listen to what others thought, I now rise up and face the challenges and obstacles. I search out fear. I embrace fear and use it to drive me rather than it using me and allowing it to hold me back.
The fight or flight mechanism in our brains is a powerful one; it has been the source of our very evolution and existence. But think for a moment, that if you were stare down what you fear most, experience the pain and see yourself standing on the other side, how different would your world look? What type of opportunities lie in wait for us? How much bigger would life look? According to David Goggins, self proclaimed toughest man on the planet (which I wouldn’t argue, read his book, You Can’t Hurt Me) we operate under the 40% rule.
This rule states that when things get tough and we experience pain, and we feel we can’t go on any longer there is an internal governor that throttles us from hurting anymore, holds us back from experiencing life at its fullest. That throttle kicks in at 40%, thus leaving us with 60 % of the capacity within us to keep fighting for what we want! To me it’s a matter of leverage. What if your life depended on whether or not you lost 50 lbs, how strict would your nutrition and exercise regimen be? Imagine if your son or daughter needed medication or an operation that you somehow needed to pay for, how much harder would you work to make that next sale.
I realize we aren’t naive enough to think that life isn’t going to throw everything at us. My issue is what are we willing to do about it, because it’s not what happens to us, it’s how we respond to what happens to us that defines who we are and determines the life we lead.
Believe you can change your life, your story and have faith in your inner strength and know that it is all possible. I spent my entire career in banking and thought that was all I was capable of doing. My defense mechanism telling me to stick to what you know Mike, you could never open your own business, you have no experience in the health and fitness field; yet here I am with my wife about to complete our second year in business, opening a second location and on the search for more, while in the process growing our staff by leaps and bounds. I have touched and changed more lives than I ever thought imaginable and I am making a difference, leaving a legacy. The life you want is there for the taking, but are you willing to get uncomfortable, I mean really uncomfortable, petrified even, because you are going to have to stand in the face of those demons that haunt you and stare them down. This I know: the payoff will be commensurate with the amount of pain and the level of “uncomfortableness” you are willing to accept.
But Mike I can’t! Whenever you hear yourself saying that replace I can’t, with I choose not to. My good friend Scott Chesney, paralyzed from the waist down, has learned to surf and parachuted out of airplanes. Do not think for a moment that what you yearn for is impossible, because it’s all possible. If you want something you will find a way, but that something has to be big enough to propel you forward and drive you through whatever storm you will face. Do I wobble? Do I get scared? Do I question myself? Yes, but I tell myself that whatever you really and truly want, lies on the other side of hurt and pain and a level of uncomfortable too many are willing to bear. Visualize it all, experience it all in your minds eye. As Paul said we must walk by faith not by sight!!
Stop telling yourself I can’t, start telling yourself I absolutely can and GO AS FAR AS YOU HAVE TO GO, to get what you most desire.