My friend Bob is a remarkable person. He immerses himself in every undertaking with an intensity and commitment few of us would possibly rival.
So when he showed up at my office with no sign of a limp, and no sign of the debilitating injury from a serious car accident last fall, I was not in the least surprised.
Bob is a sports fan whose every conversation is generously sprinkled with an endless stream of sports metaphors, analogies and similes and when I asked how he had been able to recover so rapidly from devastating injuries to both legs he simply smiled and began his explanation with a statement I have heard many times whenever he is asked his view on almost anything.
“Life is a game and you choose to either watch from the sidelines or be on the field playing your heart out.”
“There is a vast difference between being in the stands and cheering for your favourite team versus being in the field, taking hit after hit, sucking up the pain and going into each play as if your life depended on it.
“In the stands you cheer when your team is doing well and then sit back down again and sip your beer.
“You jeer when they’re not doing well and sip your beer again.
“On the field you are putting one hundred percent of everything you have into making the next play.
“In the stands, even if you’re wearing the jersey, you’re just an observer. On the field you’re a contributor.
“Are you willing and able to put that beer down, go out onto the field and take the hits?”
Bob went on to tell me that when he went to his first rehab/physio-session he was told he would be asked to do a series of painful exercises and that he should let the physiotherapist know when the pain was too much “because there is no point in pushing yourself too hard.”
Bob doesn’t know the meaning of “pushing yourself too hard” because that’s what he does and he told me of how others came into that large gym-like room and in his words, “played a little bit with that rehab stuff before crying uncle and leaving” while he stayed and pushed himself, enduring the pain until finally, “I was ordered to leave.”
Bob went home and did more of the same exercises in his living room and incorporated these practices into his daily routine, while absorbing vast amounts of pain until “the pain and the limp both went away in less than half the time the docs told me it would take.”
When I first met Bob he was beginning a new career as a self-employed, independent locksmith.
He had no customers, had invested all he had into a well-equipped van that would serve as his home and office as he set out to seek his fortune.
He could not afford much in the way of advertising so he spent his days knocking on doors of businesses, distributing his business card and doing everything he could to get his name known in the community.
He talked to everybody – the clerk at the gas station, the cashier at the store, the stranger in the street – handing out thousands of cards while asking everyone he met to “Remember me if you ever need a locksmith.”
He made it clear that he was available 24/7 and slowly his phone began to ring. He went out of his way to not only meet the needs of his customers but to leave them remembering who he was and the great service he had provided.
And his satisfied customer referred him to their friends.
And those friends referred him to their friends
As he got busier he forwent sleep to meet his customer’s needs and told me of frequently being awake for periods of 48 hours and longer because he responded to every call, day or night and never kept his customers waiting.
Years ago when I first met asked Bob and asked why he pushed himself so hard he began his answer by explained to me, “Life is a game…”
Bob was down on the field making every play until he was able to add another member to his team and then another and another until today he has a fleet of some 50+ vehicles operating in five cities and has also added security and alarm systems to his offering.
Bob’s role has changed in that he is now both a coach and a player and when his phone does ring at three in the morning he is out of bed and on his way within 10 minutes even though he could delegate the activity to a junior member of his team, he won’t because “I can’t expect them to be in the game 24/7 when they don’t see me doing the same thing.”
Being in the game is an interesting metaphor and seeing how quickly Bob was literally back on both feet, limp free and as energetic as always is a powerful reminder of how often in our own lives, we dabble in things and then are disappointed at the dismal and meager results that dabbling produces.
I believe Bob is right. Every aspect of our life, be it building a career, raising great children, attaining a prized education, overcoming addiction, losing weight and getting in shape represents a game of its own.
In each case when we decide to go to the game we need to choose whether we are going to be cheering from the sidelines, making an occasional play or are going onto the field, taking hit after hit all the while putting everything we have into the next play.
Are we in it or are we watching it?
Remember, we only ever do one thing; we do what’s important to us in the moment.
The question is how badly do we want to be the one holding the cup?
What’s your answer?
Till we read again.