Feb 072016 1 Response

What a Championship Ring Cannot Bring

You won the big game. Years of sacrifice and commitment have led to this moment. You dreamed of it. You longed for it. And now, the championship is yours.

As the time slipped off the clock, the coach was showered in Gatorade. Confetti began to shower down on the field. The next few hours were a blur. The field was a madhouse. The locker room was chaos. To be honest, you aren’t even exactly sure what time you got to bed or even how you got there. As your eyes open, it almost seems like a dream, but the championship T-shirt and hat prove it actually happened.

In light of ultimate success, was it worth it? Or more importantly, what was worth it?

A championship would confirm some things were worth it.

No champion regrets hard work. It’s the first thing others give up. Committing yourself day after day to putting in the work in pursuit of excellence is not easy. The average person gives up. Something makes them grow weary and they stop making the effort. Champions continue. They trust the process more than the moment and they keep working. Winning confirms, the effort was worth it. (See: Do the Work)

No champion regrets the sacrifice of other dreams. Pursuing one goal requires us to give up other goals. Rarely can one be an expert in multiple fields. Many professional athletes could have been good in a variety of sports, but they had to choose which one to pursue. Some refuse to focus on one pursuit. Terrified they might miss out on something, they fail to focus and never realize their full potential. Winning confirms the hard choices were worth it.

No champion regrets the struggle. Success requires discomfort. We have to work harder and challenge ourselves greater than anyone naturally desires. Most people can never embrace that struggle is a prerequisite to success. They assume failure or difficulty is a sign success wasn’t meant to be. Champions know better. The know every successful athlete was tempted to give up, failed multiple times, but found a way to keep on going. Winning confirms what they always knew–the struggle was worth it.

While there are many things which winning confirms, there are others things which it reveals. A trophy is fun to win, but the glow of victory quickly fades. I can’t confirm the story so I’ll keep the player nameless, but I remember years ago a player winning a long-coveted championship. In the locker room, holding the trophy, the player was crying. Assuming he was crying for joy, his agent sat beside him when he heard the player say, “This is it?” He finally possessed what he always desired and in the first moments he realized the emptiness of his dreams.

No championship is worth the ending of a marriage. Success requires sacrifice, but we shouldn’t trade a spouse for a trophy. The value of a lifelong commitment to another person is far greater than any career success. Marriage must come first. If success in a career demands our total focus, we should never get married. But once we commit our lives to another person, we must put them above every other pursuit. (See: One Thing You Must Show Your Spouse)

No championship is worth missing watching your children grow up. Kids are only small for a season. Their time at home is a brief window. While we don’t have to be present for every moment of their lives, we should choose our kids over a championship. It’s better to sacrifice career success rather than to sacrifice our children.

No championship is worth sacrificing your soul. Even if you win, if you sacrifice your integrity in the process, what have you gained? Success is only worth it if you can continue to look yourself in the mirror and be happy with what you see. If you are embarrassed about how you won, the victory will haunt you. Keeping integrity is of more value than winning any game.

Some things are only fully known when they are over. In the middle of life it is difficult to truly know what is important and what isn’t. But we can imagine. We can close our eyes and dream of what success would feel like. If everything we desire comes true, what would be worth it and what wouldn’t?

My guess is that those who wake up after a big win experience a mixture of emotions. They are probably elated at the victory, satisfied by the completion of a task, but also secretly disappointed that some things they gave up were not worth it.

A championship can bring many things, but it cannot bring meaning, value, or satisfaction with life. It can impress others, but it cannot satisfy our souls. The important things in life are found off the court or outside of work.

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