Some of the best and worst advice I have ever received in my life came from someone rather influential for me. It happened when I was dealing with a close individual who was exceptionally difficult for me to interact with on a daily basis (ok… it was my little brother. Love you Andj!). When I sought advice, the result was “Just lower your expectations. Then you won’t allow yourself to be so disappointed all the time.” Which, total disclaimer, the “really hard things” were things like, making me late to school, slurping cereal EVERY morning, and just in general, picking on every last nerve I felt like I had at that wise and all-knowing age of 16. Good news though, I have many more nerves and the ones he picked at grew pretty darn tough! Nonetheless, this advice stuck with me and has made a huge impact in my life, and still does.
As the best advice someone could give, this works with people that are in your life not by choice. Sometimes (most times) we have this tendency to expect the people that we think we should be able to rely on should also be perfect. But then we forget that they are human and often times, human err comes into play. No one will always make the right decision all the time (crazy, I know!). No one will do exactly what you expect all the time. No one will be your picture-perfect idea of a human. Ever. So, when it comes to lower expectations, go ahead and embrace the flaws of those around you and learn to love the differences they create and the life lessons we are taught because of them.
It’s also the worst advice I’ve ever received because, frankly, that’s not who I am. I don’t think most people who are passionate about what they are doing are, either. I have high expectations of myself, and I believe that is what has allowed me to be successful in my life. When someone has said to me that I can’t do something, I’ve never accepted it on their word alone. You can’t let others expectation of you define what you are capable of as a human. In fact, it should fuel you and drive you that much more when you know it’s something you care deeply about.
To say I underestimated the work of becoming a Head Coach in Division I athletics with the intent of putting a team with a vast history of greatness back onto the national scene would be putting it lightly. However, I also know that anything that is worth it is not easy. I have yet to be satisfied with a season that we have played. It is why, every summer, I work many camps and coach as much as possible. I need to be better. I have gotten better. I will continue to get better. And as I continue to work towards greatness individually and with my team, I should hold myself to the standard of accepting nothing less than just that. And here… this is what greatness means to me:
- Obstacles are either challenges or opportunities. It’s your perspective that dictates how you approach it. Every. Single. Time. Everyone has their story, but the people that pursue greatness? They toughen up and don’t let that story stop them from taking on the world with fury and fire. They know that in every single moment of their lives, they have some aspect of control and they can use that control to create what it is they are looking for. There is no blame shifted or diverted to those that surround them. You know when every single coach you have ever come across says the phrase “control the controllables?” This is what they mean. In the words of Cory Mathews (you know, from Boy Meets World), “Life is tough, get a helmet.”
- You constantly choose your outlook each day, and if you always choose to fight and succeed and do the right thing, you will fulfill your own prophecy. But it has to be ingrained in you. When you feel yourself heading towards the default setting of “maybe I’m just not the right person for _________,” you tell that little voice who is really boss. You tell it that you woke up today to be awesome and live awesome and help others to do the same.
- When you interact with anyone who takes time out of their day to support you, your family or your team, they should see your passion, grit and hard work in real time. They should have no other choice but to see a person, a team, or a group of individuals that make it their job to inspire others to go full force at their passion in the same way you do.
- Be comfortable being uncomfortable in taking risks. If you do not take risks, you will not see how far you can really go (and grow!). Only by pressing the limits of our comfort zones can we truly discover how bold we can really be.
- Bring your best self every day. Even if people think it makes you look like you are “trying too hard.” Do not hold back. Do not be afraid to demand greatness of yourself and others in every moment that you are given. Sometimes that means you have the best day of your life and say all the right things and crush that to-do list you’ve been trying to tackle (you go girl/guy!), and sometimes that means you showed up, got past yourself and your problems and passed along a smile to another person who really needs it. Either way, be all in.
My favorite quote of any that exemplifies what it means for me to be a member of a something greater than myself is this: “Being on a team is a privilege, not a right. You give up the right to be selfish, average and apathetic when others depend on you.”
We are all on a team somewhere in our lives. Whether it’s at work, as a coach, as a mother or father, a sister or brother, or in our group of friends. I invite you to live each day of your life to the maximum by not lowering your standards of who you are to avoid disappointment. Will everyone see it? No. Will everyone believe in it? No. Will there be people who doubt you every step of the way no matter what you do? Absolutely. But please, no matter what, do not take any opportunity in this life you are given for granted. Rise to the occasion, even if that means falling endlessly on your way up.