Friday, August 7, 2009 10:51 AM
This post is part of a series called Ignite Your Life. For background info on the series, please refer to previous posts on introducing the series and The 5 R's (where you can find links to the other posts in this series).
In January, 2004, the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers found themselves tied up after 4 quarters of their playoff game. After the Seahawks won the coin toss to begin overtime, their quarterback Matt Hasselback was asked if they wanted the ball or to defer. He responded…
We want the ball, and we’re gonna score!
Moments later he threw an interception to Al Harris who ran it back for a touchdown, sinking the Seahawk’s Superbowl dreams.
Reacting to an opportunity requires us to move, to respond, to engage. But sometimes our reaction to opportunity is limited to words and phrases. We decree that we’ll have a certain task completed by a certain date, we’ll talk about reaching a certain goal, we’ll promise to have things done within a certain period.
But none of that means anything. None of what we say actually accounts for anything in the real world. Sure we can use words to inspire, to build up, to motivate. But I’m talking about our own road, our own life, our own being. We can fool ourselves into believing we’re something we’re not by creating our own press clippings and convincing ourselves that they’re true.
The reality is that in life we’re judged on our performance. Yes there are those that rely on the perception they’ve built up for themselves, but the true danger of that is we fool the most important person in our lives: ourselves.
Judge Your Life By Your Performance
We need to judge our lives by performance. We need to set the bar high for ourselves, to push ourselves to true performance and not just fettered perception. We need to take opportunities that arise and act on them, commit to them, execute on them; not for anyone else, not for some external recognition or praise, but because we want to ignite our lives by being a person of action and reaping the personal rewards that those actions will bring.
Your Biggest Competition Is Yourself
I was watching M*A*S*H the other day. Col. Potter was talking to Hawkeye about his frustration with hearing about some doctor back home who got an award (or something like that). Potter says to Hawkeye…
There’s too many people in the world to compete with all of them. The only person you need to be better than is who you are today.
So be better today than who you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than who you are today. But do it for you, not anyone else. Wanting to be seen as better than someone else places your worth and your success on the output of selfish ambition and will require more energy and effort to maintain that status than if you focus on your own growth and development.
Ultimately we’ll look back on our lives and judge it based on what we did or didn’t do and how we accomplished our achievements, not on what we did or didn’t say. The only eyes looking back on your life at that point will be your own, nobody else’s. Ignite your life today so that you can be proud of the life you lived tomorrow.