Like many of you, I grew up being told to always give my best. I heard it from my dad, from my coach’s and from my church leaders. I’d like to think that I really did give my best but looking back, I think I probably left a lot on the table. When I was young, my “best” seemed to take too much effort. Unless there was something of significance on the line, like a championship game or some kind of threat from my parents, my natural state was to give the best I could with the least amount of effort. I have spent a significant amount of time working with young people and I feel marginally better about my own experience when I realize that is the default for most kids. There are, of course, those rare exceptions who seem to be able to draw out more from themselves whenever it counts. They are those exceptional few who are naturally gifted with a drive to succeed that allows them to dig deep and perform at levels that just seem out of reach for most of us. I’ve often thought about what makes them so different.
Hopefully you took the time to watch the embedded video but if you didn’t, it’s about a coach who asks his star player football player, Brock, about an upcoming game with a difficult rival. The player responds that there is not much hope of beating them. In a stroke of pure genius and with the wisdom of someone who understands the power of example, the coach asks Brock to go to the field and do the “death crawl.” This is when you move like a crab on your hands and feet without your knees (or any other part of your body) touching the field. Oh, and you carry someone on your back while you do it. It is incredibly difficult to do and shows off the athleticism and raw power of those that can do it. Normally, it is done for just a handful of yards…like 20 or 30 at the most. Long story short (you really should watch the video if you haven’t yet) Brock is able to death crawl all the way down the field with a 160 lb. player on his back. He makes it 100 yards with his coach loudly encouraging him to not give up…to give his VERY BEST effort, as he promised before beginning the death crawl. My personal opinion is that this video clip is one of the best motivational movie scenes of all time.
We gain some important insights from watching:
LESSON 1 – Don’t give up before you even start
It’s not over until its over and you never truly know how it’s going to end. Never underestimate the power of motivation and all out effort! Even when it looks like there is no way, it is often not until it looks hopeless that we finally dig deep within ourselves and really fight for what we want with full purpose of heart.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you’ve had a bad day or week or even month. When our morale is low, we often feel like we want to give up and nothing seems possible anymore. We have to work hard and find the strength to carry on despite what is going on around us. This is the definition of mental toughness. We need to stay inspired. How many teams have come from behind after half-time because they were inspired and motivated by their coach in the locker-room? Too many to count! Don’t put yourself out of the game just because things aren’t going according to plan. Regroup, adapt, overcome. Find that person or thing that motivates you and get a pep-talk. You CAN do it.
LESSON 2 – Don’t give up once you hit your goal
The coach blindfolds Brock because he knew that once he hit his goal of 30 yards, he would likely quit. After 50 yards, the coach kept telling Brock “just 20 more yards….just 10 more yards.” He knew what Brock was capable of even though Brock didn’t.
How many times do we sell ourselves short? We often set a goal for ourselves and once we hit it, we are content to stop and turn our focus towards other goals. This scene challenges that assumption. If Brock would have given up at the 50 yard line (which he surely would have without the blindfold), he never would have believed he could crawl the length of the entire field. If we set a goal for ourselves and are content when we achieve it, we will never know how far we COULD have gotten had we set the goal just a little higher, a little further.
LESSON 3 – Give it your very best
Those that learn to give their very best are the ones who are consistently the top performers. This is a lesson I wish I would have internalized when I was young. I eventually learned it, but I wasted a lot of opportunities in the process. It can be compared to the GOOD – BETTER – BEST model: What was good, what could have been better and what was best effort? This exercise will help to enhance performance, whatever that might be.
There is a significant difference between your best and your VERY best. Brock on his own, may have passed the 50 yard line…he might have even made it to the 75 yard line. Near the end, the coach was literally screaming at him to not quit…to give his VERY best. Gritting his teeth through the pain and agony, Brock just wanted it to end.
The coach encouraged him (loudly) to fight through it, no matter how much it hurt or how tired he was. To his utter amazement, and to his teammates wonder, Brock achieved a 100 yard crawl: something he would have considered impossible if asked to perform at the beginning. But it wasn’t impossible…it was just hard and it required external motivation, internal strength and a whole lot of character.
LESSON 4 – You don’t just lift yourself…you lift and inspire others
I won’t speak for you, but when I finished watching the clip, I was motivated to do better myself. At the beginning, Brock’s teammates were laughing at him. They weren’t laughing at the end. As a matter of fact, right about the 50 yard line, they all stood and looked on with wonder at what they were witnessing. They witnessed the seemingly impossible and the very act should inspire us to re-think what IS possible in our own lives.
When you push yourself to achieve what seems like the impossible, you inspire others to challenge their own assumptions and evaluate whether they are capable of more. You show them it CAN be done and they will begin to believe that THEY can do it too. This in no way diminishes your accomplishments. To the contrary it further elevates you and brings others up as well.
The clip ends with the coach reminding Brock that as a leader, if he acts defeated then the rest of the team would follow. If you walk around with a grim face and feeling beaten, then everyone around you will feel the same way and will begin to think that “it” can’t be done, whatever “it” might be. At the beginning, Brock openly said he didn’t think a win was possible. His teammates shared his defeatism but it was an entirely different situation at the end…it was an entirely different Brock and a different team. Anything was now possible.
In the end, the choice is yours and mine. WE are the ones who decide what is our VERY best and only we know what it will take to achieve it. Like most things worth having or doing, it will be hard and will challenge your current definition of what is possible. I can tell you from personal experience that the hardest things I’ve done in my life have been the most memorable and hold the most value. They are valuable BECAUSE they were hard.
My dad used to say, “how do you eat an elephant?” The answer? One bite at a time. You are capable of extraordinary things. Do you believe it?