America is one of the best examples of a democracy in the world today. America is also the best example of a meritocracy that the world has ever known. At no other time in history and in no other country, is an individual allowed and encouraged to rise as high as their talents will take them than in 21st century America. However, one’s full potential cannot and will never be reached unless that individual is able to stress self discipline and motivation within him. This is one of the most important criteria a young adult has in answering the self imposed question: “Have I made the transition yet from a child to an adult?” Possessing the ability to motivate oneself is a key to success in life. I have always been able to motivate myself and had parents that made sure that this was a reality. However, I knew that the day would come when I would be too old to rely upon my parents to motivate me to achieve my full potential and that an important aspect of being an adult was self discipline and motivating me to newer heights.
Growing up, football was my life. My activities were in some way surrounded by football. It may have been placed too high on my list of priorities but I was obsessed, not with the game of football, but in avoiding having to look back on my career and regretting that I did not give it 100% and that somehow, I peaked at the age of seventeen. Whether I was running sprints in the snow or lifting in the gym when my friends were getting drunk, I knew that the benefits would pay off. I was never gifted with great athletic ability so I accepted the fact that I just had to work that much harder. Also, I knew that acquiring a good work ethic in football, will likely translate to profitable habits when I became an adult. When MTV used to play music videos, I became transfixed towards one particular video that motivated me to a great length. It was the 1985 Bruce Springsteen “Glory Days.”
In the video, a man about the age of thirty has spent his life reminiscing about how great his high school days were as the star pitcher on the baseball team. He peaked at the age of seventeen and ever since, has been stuck in his own past and glory. I vowed this would never be as I knew too many people who were already in that mold. As it was unlikely that I would ever play professional football, I needed to use the sport as a stepping stone towards my professional and academic careers. What motivated me in football was to know that I tried my best and I neither let my teammates down or my parents in their efforts and sacrifices in giving me the best possible childhood; supplying all of my needs and a few of my wants. Many times, the most selfish individual, when he finds a group that he can identify with, is involved in a transformation towards one of selflessness and putting the needs and desire of others above himself. This is more likely to happen on the playing field, as a part of a team, than in any other aspect of life for one who is making the transition from child to adult hood.
What also motivates me is a sense of right and wrong. When I was making my own transition from child to adulthood and asking myself if I had yet become an adult, I came across what has now become one of my favorite quotes. It comes from the book of 1st Corinthians, chapter 13. and verse 11 in the New Testament. It says: “When I was a child, I spoke, understood and thought like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.”(Bible, 2000 p. 786) When applied correctly, this verse helps to negate a majority of the unnecessary drama and impediments that so monopolize many of our lives today. I work hard at my job because a strong work ethic is necessary if one wants to succeed in life and one day, provide for a family. Whether that be as the wage earner of the family or in helping to raise children and to be at home during and accessible during their most important years, both can be applied here. Anyone who is successful in life has done so by becoming their own toughest critic. Yearning for the applauses of others in order to validate one’s efforts of existence is vanity and there is no reward in it. I work hard because to do otherwise is cheating me. I try not to lie because doing otherwise serves as an impediment to my conscious as I would then worry about being caught in the lie and then having to lie again to cover up the initial lie. I am not lazy because I know that hard work has its rewards and postponing immediate gratification for a greater good in the future for oneself or for the benefit of a future family, is just what an adult is expected to do; both my society, but more importantly, from my own sense of responsibility.
Anyone who is successful and enjoyed the fruits of his labor has done so by making specific goals and not by living in the moment and how something can give them immediate gratification. (Kiyosaki, 2004) Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the green Bay Packers said: “Winning isn’t everything, the pursuit of winning is the only thing.” (Sportscentury, 2006) Lombardi enjoyed many winning seasons with the Packers but this was not out of luck or a great amount of talent. Except for Starr, Kramer and Woods, many of the names on his roster have been forgotten except to the most obsessed fan. Lombardi won because he took simple plays and ran them to perfection through repetition and a no nonsense approach regarding his expectations of his players. This can be translated towards many aspects of one’s own life and was seen in my own life growing up.
It is a tragedy that millions of American children are growing up without a father since I have derived so much of whom I am and my work ethic from my own father. My mother was extraordinary but only my father would I allow teaching me how to be a man. When I was a child, my family went out to eat. When the waitress confused my order and brought me something different than what I hard ordered, I began to speak up, only to stop as I saw a silent but stern reaction from my father which meant that it would be better if I said nothing. This may seem strange as my father was teaching me not to stand up for myself. This was not the case at all. He was teaching me a much more important lesson; a lesson that has been lost in America today. That is, that one should not get in the habit of complaining unless it is vitally important. The dish that I was brought tasted great and my father knew that. Therefore, it was not an impediment to me to abstain from asking the waitress from going back and changing my order. There was a bigger lesson to be learned that can be applied to the job as well as the playing field and is central to one becoming an adult. Those who complain the most are usually the ones that have acquired the least amount of success. This comes from one having their time and talents being motivated by thoughts of suspicion of favoritism by the boss towards others or seeking to cover up their own shortcomings by blaming somebody else. The only person that one should seek to please on the job is one’s immediate supervisor and themselves. Being bogged down by mindless gossip and seeking to come up with excuses to cover up a poor job performance only cheats the individual and serves as an impediment to his future success ever coming to fruition. I have known people who did not come to work because it was raining and they didn’t have a ride to work, despite the distance being only one or two miles away. This is hard to fathom as being a legitimate reason why a twenty year old member of the university’s football team could not walk or ride his bike in order to fulfill his work responsibilities. Avoiding such laziness and propensity for excuses is of the utmost importance. The need to fulfill my responsibilities: as a son, a brother, a boyfriend and eventual husband and father as well as a good employee is what drives me. Also, knowing that I utilized every resource I had at the time to realize my full potential is what helps motivate me to be an example of a man who is dependable, trustworthy, does not participate in mindless gossip, does not blame others for my own shortcomings and bad decisions and who is his harshest critic. It is the opportunities, relationships and jobs where I did not try my best, that keep me awake at night saying: What if I did this or what if I did that?” Regret in not performing my tasks and duties to the best of my ability and the knowledge that only in the movies does one get the chance to go back in time and right the wrongs that his own sloth, greed and anger have created in missed opportunities, is what keeps me motivated. This has always been important to me. So as Grantland Rice, the most famous sports writer of the 1920’s said:” When the great scorer comes to write against your name, it isn’t whether you won or lost but how you played the game.” (Miller, 2005 p. 56) That is what matters to me. When my wife and children can say that about me in a time when it will be the exception and no longer the norm that a man has given all for his family, led them in faith and worked hard in order to give them the best from the fruits or his labor and an undeniable work ethic that cannot be seconded. Put that on my tombstone and I’ll be happy.
SportsCentury: Vince Lombardi. New York: ESPN Productions March 12, 2005
Kiyosaki, R. (2004) Rich Dad Poor Dad New York: Oxmore House.
Miller, J. (1998) Grantland Rice: America’s Sportswriter. Chicago: University of Chicago.
The Holy Bible. (2000) London: Oxford University Press.
Springsteen, B. ( 1996) Glory Days Born in the USA: MTV Productions. 1996