YA' GOTTA KNOW WHEN...
My father was quite an athlete. Leaving his small hometown in Tennessee, Dad and a friend drove to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in aeronautical school. While working on his degree, he boxed to help pay for his schooling. Eventually becoming LA’s middleweight boxing champion and winning the championship, Dad went on to play quarterback for the semi-professional LA Tigers—a farm team. Among my personal treasures are several newspaper articles about my father’s adventures in sports.
When I was in junior high school, I decided to play football. Dad had several sayings he used to empower my brother and me. One of his empowering sayings was,” Your opposition puts their pants on the same way you do.” The truth be told, that saying did nothing for me; my response was, “Yeah, but look at how much bigger their pants are.”
I played tackle, and my number was 99. I never got it dirty because the coach never called my name!
I would come home after football practice with terrible headaches. Finally, my dad asked, ‘Why are you playing football?” My response was, “I thought you wanted me to.” Since he was such an outstanding player, I assumed he would want me to play as well. “ No,” he said, “you do what you want to do.”
What a relief not to go to football practice anymore. No more headaches. I wound up playing guard for our basketball team. I was not good at that either, but I enjoyed it, and enjoying a sport was exactly what my father wanted for me.
One famous motivational saying is, “You can do anything you want.” I heard Zig Ziglar challenge the truth of that idea. “I cannot do anything I desire to do,” Zig explained. “I cannot be a horse jockey because I am too big.” It would be more accurate to say, “We can do whatever is within our capability.”
“Never quit” is another popular mantra. We all have heard stories about people quitting too soon and missing some treasure that someone else discovers later. If they hadn’t quit, they would have found the treasure.
This idea is challenged in the song
“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers:
“You got to know when to hold them,
know when to fold them,
and know when to run.”
A perfect example of knowing when to quit is found in the example of a mouse going down a path looking for cheese: if it doesn’t find cheese there, it stops. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about some of us. We go down the same old paths again and again, even though there is no cheese there. We mistakenly think if we try harder and go faster, we will find it.
The real challenge is to find a new path—one that we enjoy because it is realistic and takes account of our actual capabilities.
As the late great Danny Thomas once told his daughter, Marlo: “Run your own race.”