Friday, October 7, 2011

Work Ethic, Favorites, Underdogs & Other Nonsense

I went to dinner with my dad and my brother Wednesday for dad's 80th birthday.  At the end of dinner I would tell him that I am moving back to California.  I mentioned this to my older sister and her response was surprising yet true, "That's OK.  He lives next door to Bill and he has always been his favorite anyway".  I was a little taken back at first and then kind of laughed and said, "you're right".  In fact, Time magazine just had a big article about parents having favorites.  Bill is dad's and I have always been fine with that?  Why?

I was never treated poorly.  In fact I have always been treated great but Bill was treated better.  He was far more gifted athletically, he liked to work on cars with my dad, etc.  I on the other hand got up at 4 AM when my dad got ready to go to work and lifted weights with my little 20 lb. (10 kg) set.  In high school me and a few friends would go out at 4 AM and run the six mile (10 km) dirt road that was about to become US 290.  Sometimes Bill went but usually not.  When my dad coached little league he told us that we would have to be far better than the other kids in order to get to play so he could not be accused of favoritism.  Therefore Bill always played and I rarely did.

Somehow all of this never bothered me because I knew Bill WAS better.  I worked really hard and still was not that good and I was OK with that.  Bill had a good work ethic himself but not like mine.  At least not then.  Today he celebrates 20 years in the military where he joined at 30 and became an Airborne Ranger and has received two bronze stars for service in the Middle East.  Again, I could never do that either, but I admire him and am very proud of him.

I don't have a real point here because the only three people who matter are very happy and comfortable in our relationships with dad and each other.  I love and respect them both.  I rationalize that it's tough being the favorite because so much is expected.  My junior year of college I shocked the world and won nationals after coming in ranked 10th.  The next year I had the 6th best jump going in and wasn't picked to medal yet I won again.  That said, strangely I don't think underdog has any advantage either.

Most of my life I have done and been very successful at things others said I shouldn't or couldn't do.  I was the underdog.  That lack of faith never drove me to succeed as I pretty much just ignored it and went on about my business.  I've never needed to "show someone" because I could care less if they approved. What drove me is that I commit to things that I think are the best way for me to go.  And usually after a lot of hard work and no shortage of frustrating setbacks, I achieve the goal and then some.

In review, until the truly talented work as hard as their talent levels, underachievers who consistently work harder will continue to pass them.  The thought or motivation of training or competing as a favorite or as an underdog is nonsense.  Practice how you compete and compete how you practice.  Train as if the world is watching every rep.  If this makes you happy you are already successful.  Now go have fun at the competition.  Thanks for being here.  Bubba

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