Everyone loves an underdog story. A long-shot with little hope who defies logic, silences doubters, and overcomes all obstacles on their way to ultimate glory. But that’s not always how it plays out in real life, is it?
The truth is, some teams are really hard to beat; some obstacles are big; some goals are nearly unattainable; some challenges are actually impossible.
What do you do when you’re faced with a situation like this?
This month, our Trigger Focus is dedication. When I asked DST athletes and coaches what it meant to be dedicated, I got a lot of really good answers. One of my favorites was very simple: “Being committed to a task or cause and never giving up.” I love this answer because it mentions nothing about the completion of the task or success of the cause — only the commitment to never give up. You see, failures are bound to happen. Un-winnable games will be played. Goals won’t be hit. Impossible challenges will prevail. But here’s the good news:
Just because you ended up failing doesn’t mean you were wrong to start fighting.
If you haven’t seen the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, add it to your must-watch list. I won’t spoil the movie, but I do want to share a very poignant scene with you. The titular character is a substitute-turned-lifer music teacher whose music program is at risk of falling victim to budget cuts. In the scene, Mr. Holland talks to the current principal, Mr. Wolters, about how his mentor, Mrs. Jacobs (the former principal), would not have sat idly by while the school abandoned the fine arts departments. The dialogue unfolds with the following:
Mr. Holland: “Jacobs would have fought this.”
Principle Wolters: “She would have lost.”
Mr. Holland: “Yes, she would have lost. But she would have fought this. And so will I.”
This is a prime example of what true dedication looks like. Sure, it’s dedication to a losing cause, but Mr. Holland absolutely refused to go down without a fight.
I’ve found that I’m drawn to this same mentality in fiction and reality alike.
One of the most inspiring stories in all of mythology is the Battle of Thermopylae— Anyone want to do a Gerard Butler “This is Sparta!” impression? Now’s the time — I’ll wait. What an incredible narrative: 300 men vs. hundreds of thousands. The Spartans faced certain death, yet remained undeterred in their resolve to fight for their land and stand up for what they knew was right.
Or how about a historical account? The Battle of the Alamo is essentially the same storyline. We absolutely love it here in Texas — and for good reason. If you don’t know the details, you need to do some research. The epic line in the sand drawn by William B. Travis. The willingness of every last man to give his life for the greater good. THAT is dedication.
Here’s my point: You’re not going to win every game you play.¹ You won’t achieve every goal you ever set for yourself. You cannot and will not be perfect. But does that mean you shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. Find something of great value, throw caution (and probability of success) to the wind, and dedicate yourself to it.²
¹Possible exception of the 2018-2019 Golden State Warriors
²For those who’ve read this far, allow me to encourage you a bit further: sports are an unbelievably powerful thing. So much can be learned from participating through competition and teamwork. But athletic careers don’t last. Championships are only good for a calendar year before the next victor is crowned. Even the best of careers end and ability fades. So when I write about finding something of great value that’s worth dedicating yourself to, I’m talking about something bigger than sport, bigger than a relationship and bigger than finding yourself.
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” – Mark 8:34-37