posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013
I attended a great college football game this weekend, Rutgers v. SMU. I am an alumnus of SMU and had a rooting interest in the game. The Ponies looked terrible in falling behind by almost three scores, but they stuck to their guns, found some things that worked, and tied the game on an amazing two-point conversion. They went on to lose in triple overtime, but fought every step of the way against a favored and superior opponent. It was great to watch, as a fan of the team and the game.
The circumstances were adverse. It was misting and cold for a Texas afternoon. SMU is a passing team (70 attempts), and the wet weather was tough to overcome. Rutgers was bigger and faster and had played good competition coming in to the game. At times, SMU looked overmatched. Rutgers applied pressure to the quarterback on seemingly every play. Yet, SMU’s coaches and players showed great resolve in sticking to their plan and working to complete their task. Though the end result was not a victory, there exists a lesson in this game for overcoming adversity.
Sports are a general metaphor for life. Most coaches will draw parallels between the two in motivational speeches and in counseling their players. Many of the circumstances we face in the two hours of athletic competition are repeated in the day-to-day grind of life. Sometimes we are overmatched, the circumstances are adverse, and the plan seems to be amiss. It takes a leader with great resolve to stick to the plan and continue to grind in order to overcome those circumstances. In life, it takes similar resolve to stick to the plan and grind to overcome.
We won’t always come out on top, but there is great value in believing in the plan and imparting it to others, and there is much to be gained by continuing to scrap it out until the plan starts to work. It is like exercising your muscles while lifting weights. One starts with a small amount, and as you continue to grind the muscles respond, barriers are broken, confidence builds, and muscles grow and gain strength for new challenges.
I was exhilarated to watch coaches refuse to panic and refuse to abandon their plan. I saw them stick to the plan and achieve success by continuing to lead according to their belief that the plan was correct and that they had put their team in the best position to win. That type of leadership is infectious and breeds adherence to concepts previously ignored by players. Accept that challenge in whatever area of life you need to. Stick to the plan, push against the obstacles, resist the urge to give up, and lead your team in a way that they will relish the opportunity to become overcomers.