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WHATEVER IT TAKES

I have been putting off posting this blog for a few weeks now because I’ve been telling myself they don’t deserve it.  But who am I fooling with my fanatical hate, winning justifies praise.  So, here is my piece in honor of the victors of Super Bowl 51, the New England Patriots.

Now, let me first inform you that I am a Giants and Jets fan. Secondly, I support any team playing against the Patriots. Any team.  Thus, I am writing this tribute despite my abiding strong dislike (hatred) for the Patriots.  To be honest, I dislike all Boston teams.  My general dislike was entrenched when the Boston Red Socks game back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat my Yankees in the 2004 ACLS Championship.  And was I vexed!  We have elephant memories around 161st and Jerome Ave (Yankee Stadium) and we hold grudges too.  You can imagine then, how elated I was when my NY Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42.  Actually, we beat them twice.  You may remember Super Bowl 46.

But it has not always been a sour relationship between Yankees and New Englanders.  In 1773, New Yorkers supported the Boston tea party protest against the tyrannical British occupiers.  In those days we were all on the same team, and that team was called- Yankees.  Well, actually the instigators called themselves the “Sons of Liberty”. It was the British, in their attempt to be derisive who called us Yankees, and for that we got independence and 27 World Series Championships.

But in all seriousness, after I have done mourning and even gloating, my reflection on the success of the Patriots as moved me from hatred to not only respect, but admiration.  Their win reminded me of the ethics and values we need to succeed.

So What does it take to win?

What I admire most about sport stars is their relentless drive to win.  They train hard.  They play even harder. They seem to have an insatiable desire to be the best, to excel, to win.  Essentially, winning becomes them.  And we love winners.  It’s the reason we compare those who accomplish great feats to Michael Jordan.   It’s the reason we get up early to watch Messi score goals or Serena slide on the clay court of the Stade Roland Garros.  Because no other profession shows humanity what you can achieve with hard work and determination quite as clearly as sports does.   It ‘s the reason we are still in awe at how Tom Brady and his compatriots came back from a great deficit and won.  Sports reveals, like no other, what it takes to win.

I know many people will mention the serious accusations and findings of cheating against the Patriots as a mark against their success.  Of course there are no excuses for cheaters.   We must not lift any banner to celebrate their apparent success, or throw any parade to show off their unjust enrichment.   Any claim to success should have the unreserved backing of fair play.  For too long we have decorated thugs to look like Robin Hood, when in fact they are more likely to look like Bernie Madoff.  To the extent, therefore, that the Patriots are guilty of cheating, they aught to be punished and I believe they were.   However, to say that the Patriot’s success is based on cheating ignores the toil and struggle a team must endure to be called champions.  Lets not be silly, you don’t win 5 Super Bowls because you recorded a few practices; you certainly don’t come back from a 21-point deficit because you used deflated footballs.  No, winning takes more than the apparatus you use to accomplish some task and it takes more than manipulating the regulations that govern your space.  Wining takes more than the voices that cheer you on or the shouts that disapprove.   To say that the Patriot’s won because they are cheaters impugns the values that made them winners in the first place: Tenacity, resilience, hard work, determination, preparation, focus, motivation, confidence and self reflection.  Winning takes everything. It takes all of you.  Tom Brady and the Patriots won because they did whatever it took to win.

Whatever it takes

Even the mere rumors of the savviness of that evil empire (fanatical hate) is an indication that they have the will to do whatever it takes to win.   Fans don’t usually see all the grind athletes put in to place themselves in a position to win.  During the off season athletes are still working on their craft.  They live in gyms and on playgrounds.  They eat the boring, healthy foods we shun, and are constantly sore from the rigors of daily training.  Their bodies take a hammering to carve out the picturesque physique we see on television.  Any decline in their performance can cost them millions of dollars in salaries and endorsements.  Their reputation is at stake.   And there are no cubicles to hide behind after a harsh word from the boss.  When you play for leagues that commands millions of viewers, the whole world sees when you flop.   Sports can certainly teach us a thing or two about life: the struggle of preparation, the toil of determination, the spirit of resilience are the key ingredients of a winner’s mentality.

I love hearing stories about winners, and not only the winners we celebrate when we buy jerseys and tea cups.  But also the unheralded, underestimated, misunderstood dreamer, who despite the odds, comes back time after time and wins.  Just regular people who continue to do whatever it takes to win.   They sent more emails.  They stayed up later than everyone else.  They networked.  They are the ones sending out resumes and writing proposals and requesting an increased in pay, or asking for a promotion.   They understood that failure is short term; that a denial is only a signal for another way out.  Because for them, whatever it takes means being counted out yet still knocking down doors.   Whether putting up with a nasty boss or a rude professor, winners do whatever it takes to turn unpleasant situations into successful stories.  So When no one is clocking your hours, or you volunteer for that time consuming project, or you throw a helping hand into your colleague’s work for the benefit of the team, you are doing whatever it takes to win.  And there are more challenges yet to come, but you have been here before; you know what it takes.  For when the whistle blows, the team depending on you, and it seems like the whole world is watching, you will deliver one of the most spectacular performances the world has ever seen;  Bradyesque.    Many people have talents, but you only win when you are willing to do whatever it takes.    Like one of my brothers, who was answering phones for 3 years as a customer service representative, is now making presentations before the CEO of the same company and leading multi-million dollar projects.  What a comeback.  What a performance.   Whatever it takes bro.  Whatever it takes.

 

You know what …. Nah, I’ll finish it tomorrow.

I love old sayings and proverbs, there is so much truth in them.  One of my favorite sayings is “Procrastination is the thief of time.”  To be honest, I don’t know why it’s one my favorites when I struggle with practicing its principle.   I am notorious for postponing starts.  Sometimes I think I like to revel in the dream process.  Dreaming is fantastic.  You envision the accomplishment much more than the work.  You realize the joy of achievement without experiencing the pain of struggle.  You rarely think of the pitfalls and possible predicaments that can capsize your dream.  It’s not that you are oblivious to the challenges; it’s just not quite time to think about them.  Not yet.

Of course, the reasons for not starting are never couched in charming language.  Rather, they are littered with excuses of why starting later is better than starting now.  So the conversation, at least with me, goes something like this: “I don’t have the resources I need”; “I am waiting for someone to help me”; “I am tired”;  “I am just not in the mood”; or, my favorite: “tomorrow.”   Have you ever had such conversations with yourself?  If so, you were procrastinating and you might be a procrastinator.  Procrastination is “putting off for tomorrow what you can do today.”  I told you I liked old sayings.

Procrastination creates the illusion that you have more time.   More time to plan.  More time to meander in dreams.   Procrastination creates the impression that there is more time for you to seize opportunities, or that prospects will always be there for the taking.  It ignores competition and the strenuous task of making dreams a reality.  It dismisses the fact that you are getting older.  It’s truly the thief of time, and losing time will never benefit you.

Most of all, procrastination doesn’t benefit your dream.  There is something about a dream needing the momentum its incubation period provides:  a delay kills it.  And dreams are usually envisioned within the zeitgeist of the time.  Therefore, dreams need to be breed in their contemporary context to be fully appreciated.  They rely on the connections that social norms generate.  Dreams have to be fresh.  In other words, when you procrastinate, you run the risk that your ideas can become outdated and obsolete.

So, we have to practice –Starts; that is, to make starting a habit.  To get up out the blocks and go.  To “strike while the iron is hot.”  While dreams are important when setting goals, they mean nothing unless you start.  And, I have found that your dreams are not finite.  They blossom with every step, every initiation, every start.  Why are we sitting on plans and ideas we have had for years?  And how much longer are we willing to experience disappointment, sadness or even jealousy because we see our friends making moves we should have made years ago?  Do you realize that your inability to start has stunted your dreaming process?  Dreams are like stepping stones.  Its only when you take a step that you realize there is more for you to accomplish, more to contribute, much more to dream.

Ask yourself two questions as you practice starts: 1) What’s preventing me from starting?  2)  How much time do I really have?

You won’t realize the potential of your creativity nor journey towards your purpose unless you start.

Your Steps Create Their Own Fortune

This year, I don’t want to hear any one say to me, “they wish they could” or other phrases of limitations; no, not in 2017.  This year, let’s retrain our minds to see our dreams as the birthing of our inevitable achievements.  Let’s allow the fear and discouragement that cramps our passions and ideas to turn into hope and maybe hope into faith.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to be the key note speaker at a graduation service.  The institution was an alternative high school for students who, for whatever reason, were being left behind in normal high school settings.  The school is located in Trench Town, which is one of the poorest and most violent communities in Kingston, Jamaica.  These students did not have acceptance letters to universities, their network was limited, and in fact their education thus far was mediocre, at best.  The teachers tried, but by the time they got the students, the work was more about instilling confidence than it was educational.  I thought long and hard about what message I needed to impart to these teenagers.  They were so young and so happy. They knew they were poor.  They knew they had not received the best education.  Yet the look in their eyes was hope-filled and I needed to encourage that.  So as the preachers say, they needed a WORD.  I prayed about it, and I felt like I had an epiphany of sorts.   One of the thoughts I shared with them that day was “Your Steps Create Their Own Fortunes”.   I wasn’t trying to be dismissive of the realities of their lives.  In fact, the message was more poignant because of their circumstances.   They had no other choice.  Their only hope was to take a chance on themselves.  A leap of faith to fulfill their dreams.  A step- to begin the walk towards their own fortunes.

There is much power in one step.  It realigns your posture and position.  Your perspective changes.  Others’ perspective of you changes too.  One step brings you closer to your destiny and reveals to the world that you are about: that you are purposeful, motivated and demanding.  One step brings you closer to the help you will need to achieve your goals.  It shows the clarity of your vision or enlightens the path for the other steps you need to take.  Yes, steps generate energy, something must happen.

I thought that message was just for these students, but it was for me too.  My mantra for the last 2 years has been “Your Steps create their own fortunes.”  So, in 2016, I decided to move on one of my dreams, which was opening my own firm.  I found a nice office space, in a very central location and would you know, things are happening.  In fact, its moving faster than I expected.  I have inspired myself.  I am going to take more steps.

I can only hope that the young ladies that did a recital at that graduation service heard how powerful their voices were and did not quiet them. That the valedictorian did more than what his surroundings taught him.  I hope those students took steps, not to merely survive, but to live the way their dreams showed them.

Have you thought about all the ideas you had that someone eventually jumped on? Do you remember the excuses you told yourself that prevented you from taking steps?  Trust me, everyone has doubts, but only those who take a step create fortune.

Happy New Year

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