I was with my best friend of 22+ years watching some college football this weekend. We of course talked about a variety of things from our many years of friendship. One of the things we chatted about was a story that I’d heard from him and other friends over the years but wasn’t reminded of until recently.
It goes something like this…
A football coach at our high school often talked about the importance of football games in relation to other simple events that occur later in life. The main example that this coach liked to talk about was the frozen food section of a grocery store. Everyone will eventually find themselves in this aisle. While we may or may not be there regularly, eventually, it happens.
So you have your cart, half full, and you are pushing along looking at various vegetables, ice cream and microwave meals. After you reach for something and put it in your cart, you head down the aisle. Just as you do so, you come face to face with your cross town rival of 10, 15, 20 or more years ago. You both recognize each other right away. You played against each other for years. You were a wide receiver. He was a defensive back. Instantly, and almost simultaneously (according to this coach), you both have almost exactly the same thought from entirely different points of view. They go something like this:
#1: He was a great competitor. Tough, real tough. When we met head to head, he won. Fair and square.
#2: I put 100% into our battles on the field. I didn’t give up. When we met head to head, I won. Fair and square.
You both may even remember other details from the last time you played. The score, the weather, injuries or even the way you felt on that night. No matter how you slice it, the first set of thoughts that enter your brain are related to who won and lost that night. The point this coach was trying to make was that although the work being done in practice now was for a game that week, the results would help define moments throughout your life.
While it is just high school football, it really does have meaning in your life as an adult, too. There is a frozen food section for business. You will see an old partner, client, employee or investor at some point. Maybe it won’t literally be in a grocery store, but it will be somewhere. When you see each other again for the first time in a long time, you will both have thoughts just like what the football coach described. Do the work, make the sacrifices, put forth the effort, be honest.
When it is your turn to have that instant thought in the frozen food aisle, make sure it is the #2 from above.