It’s About Achieving Greatness (May 11, 2011)

Updated: May 11, 2011

Think about the greatest athletes.  Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Willie Mayes, all of them had great physical ability.  Is physical ability alone why they achieved greatness?

They, as all of our area athletes, need a myriad of situations to fall right.  Had Michael Jordan been drafted by Portland, he would not have been the greatest player in the history of the game (and this is coming from a diehard Portland Trailblazer fan).  Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson just as much as Phil Jackson needed Michael Jordan (and in the later stages of his career Kobe Bryant).

Being in the right situation is just as important as having the ability to perform in the situation.  One is not greater than the other.  On equal footing, both are required to achieve greatness. There is a long list of athletes who “were prepared for” and “performed in” the right situation.  Why were they not great?

Frankly, it requires more than just skill to become great.  Achieving greatness requires what is often referred to as “guts.” In the dictionary, the word guts is defined as, “showing perseverance in the face of opposition or adversity.”   We don’t remember Michael Jordan for the 50-point performances.  Well, we remember those.  But the reason he’s remembered as great is because of the 50-point performances while stricken with the flu.

Sports are filled with stories of athletes dislocating their shoulder, popping it in and remaining in the game.  Or pitching a no-hitter and hitting four home runs less than 48 hours after the death of a family member.  That’s why we keep coming back. We love the stories of athletes achieving greatness in the face of adversity.  We love guts.

Go win a state championship, or in my case, broadcast a state championship.  The work it takes to get to that level is astronomically phenomenal. When you reach that pinnacle, the reward is worth all the “blood, sweat and tears” that went into every step of that path.  Enjoy it; relish in it; it’s deserved.

The greatest achievements in life have, however, undoubtedly left you thinking at some point, “Is this all there is?” That empty pit is filled with the momentary joy of achieving greatness.  But after 15 minutes, another “champion” will be crowned.  Then, your/our/my “war of attrition” is precisely that – attrition.

Attrition is defined as “the rubbing away.”  Going through our “war” will strip us down to who we really are.  Many of us cover up who we are with what we’ve been through.  Soon enough, in order to have an identity we’ll have to go through another “war” to maintain our identity.

Go through the war.  We all have to.  But don’t be afraid to hide that raw, uninhibited you because ultimately it was you and the gifts given to you that allowed the achievement of that greatness.