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Touchdown!: Achieving Your Greatness on the Playing Field of Business (and Life)

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What if you had just one play in you, one opportunity? What would it be? Think about it in light of your career, your health, your family and friends. Here is your starting point.
This chapter is from the book
  • “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
  • Andre Gide

When I was working for the Dallas Cowboys, we had a big game against our arch rivals, the Washington Redskins. During the week-long buildup before the game, Redskins player Albert Connell, in an ESPN interview, made some cutting comments about Deion Sanders, saying that he was an old man who was washed up and should no longer be playing.

In the game, while Deion was trying to disprove these remarks, he caught a punt early in the first quarter and was immediately hit by a number of Redskins. They hit him so hard that Deion suffered such a concussion that the medical staff had to help him off the field. At least for that day, it did look like Deion was done. He stayed on the sideline for most of the rest of the game with an ice pack on his spinal cord.

Throughout the game, Deion pleaded with the staff to let him back in. But they said the results could be catastrophic. Later, the stand-in Cowboy punt returner, Jeff Ogden, went onto the field in place of the injured Sanders to receive a punt. Deion suddenly sprinted out, physically removed Ogden’s helmet, put it on himself, and ordered Ogden off the field. The doctors were screaming, “Call time out; he’s going to kill himself!” But it was too late. Deion caught that punt, broke into a run up the sideline, stiff-armed a player, juked past another, and sprinted into the end zone for a touchdown.

Still it wasn’t over. Deion walked to the Redskins sideline. “Hey, Connell,” he said, “It isn’t any fun hunting rabbits when the rabbit has a gun, too.” Then he went to the Dallas sideline, returned Ogden’s helmet, and proceeded to the locker room to shower.

What if you had just one play in you, one opportunity? What would it be? Think about it in light of your career, your health, your family and friends. Here is your starting point. Say to yourself, “I have one shot, one season, and this is the way I will manage it. My time has come. I’m making my plan to grow, getting my vision clear—now.”

Make the Last Play Count

Paul “Bear” Bryant, the legendary head football coach of the University of Alabama, knew the value of thinking about the last play, and demonstrated that when doing a television commercial for AT&T the week before Mother’s Day. As he settled into the studio, those doing the filming said the ad would be easy. They told him just to read the script they held next to the camera, so they practiced while he read, “This is Paul Bryant, the head coach of Alabama, and this weekend is Mother’s Day. Call your mama.”

The Bear told the studio staff he was ready and that he didn’t need a script. Uneasy, the producers decided to go ahead and try it. The Bear said, “This is Paul Bear Bryant, the head coach of the University of Alabama. Roll, Tide, roll,” he began. “This weekend is Mother’s Day; call your mama,” he said. But then he added one more line of his own: “I wish I could....”

I’m talking about thinking as if every play is your last and seizing your moments. Sometimes they are as dramatic as The Bear’s, but there are many, and their lengths vary: the high-school season; then, the four-years-in-college season; the dating season; the starting-out-on-your-own season; the just-married season; and on and on. Each season of your life calls you to make something of it. After each season, you do not want to say, “Why didn’t I enjoy that more, give it more, be in less of a hurry? There was something I was called to do there, and I missed it.”

Why not ask, “What are my gifts? What makes me feel alive? Where will my opportunities lead me?” If you feel it is your season to become rich, then ask yourself, “What is rich?” Is it more money so you can bless others with your wealth? Is rich being a better father, mother, or friend? Does being rich mean you reach the top spot in your field? Figure out the answer to this question and others in the same vein concerning your vision during your “preseason.” This is a time to try out new ideas and new ways of showing up before the next season—or chapter—of your life gets into full swing.

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