Sports resonate with us because they are a metaphor for our lives with heightened drama and an in your face immediacy.
All the good and bad of life is mixed right into the sports that captivate the world’s attention - ups and downs, failure, success, heartbreak, teamwork, competition, excellence, hard work, a beginning and an end, and anything else you could think of…
Whether or not you like football - this is important.
On Sunday the Miami Dolphins were playing the greatest football team of my lifetime the New England Patriots. The game was essentially over and with it, the Dolphins season was essentially over - other than playing out the rest of their season that had the primary meaning taken away by the inevitable loss.
With just seconds on the clock, the Dolphins lined up for what in football is known as a Hail Mary - where you just throw the ball as far down the field as you can and hope for the best- which has almost a 0 percent success rate.
What ensued was one of the greatest plays in NFL history: a completed pass, followed by several pitches to other players until one of the Dolphins eventually ran it into the endzone while the last defender fell short of making the tackle. A dramatic sports moment by any measure.
What captured my attention the most however, was NOT the play. It was the raw emotion of the fans and players after the fact. Genuine excitement by spectators and participants alike. All because they had a mission and succeeded against all odds. With their backs against the wall, they were able to set their mind to it and to the impossible. Something we have all done once or twice in our life, even though probably not in front of a crowd of tens of thousands of people.
As a boy, like many boys, I wanted to be a professional athlete. Turns out life had other plans for me, but even to this day I get envious watching the pure emotion that happens when something great like this happens.
My take away wasn’t envy though. That would be the worst takeaway from seeing someone else achieve something. Instead of dwelling in what I don’t have, I started looking back at all the lives I have affected positively. In every phase of my life there have been SOME good ways I made an incredible difference in people’s lives: A positive sales interaction where I found the right product for a person and made money for my employer. A life changing coaching session where I helped someone make a key decision that would change their lives and the lives of people around them forever.
I didn’t get quite the applause that the Dolphins did on Sunday, but stepping into some of those memories and feeling the happiness again I felt like there should have been an applause.
Most of us will never get to play professional sports. But we do a good job at something every day. Make sure you take a moment to appreciate the great things you accomplish even if it is something that no one cheers for - like balancing the books at your small business or having a good conversation with your kid on the way home from school.
For those of you that have coworkers, let them feel your appreciation GENUINELY when they do something that makes a difference. Change the culture at your office so that whatever work happens in your building is more exciting than something as simple as catching a touchdown pass.
NFL players aren’t the only people who work hard and deserve an applause. We all deserve applause - from ourselves and from the people around us. Amplify the beautiful moments in your life. Feel your accomplishments. And most of all, let other people know when they have made a difference in your life. Make the fans at a football stadium look tame compared to the excitement you share with the people who make a difference in your life.