Sunday, April 19, 2009

Finding Your Ceiling

How good can you be? What is the premier performance that you can deliver on the playing field of life? Do you give your absolute best in everything?

In his book, "When The Game Stands Tall", author Neil Hayes tells the true story of high school football coach Bob Ladouceur. Ladouceur holds the record for the longest winning streak in football history. De La Salle, the tiny Catholic school in Concord, California won 151 consecutive games from 1992 to 2004, while playing against some of the top football programs in Northern California and beyond.

What is amazing about Bob Ladouceur and "The Streak" of wins is that each year he would have a new team of teenagers who have to work together to find that special spark that would allow them to dominate on the football field. Neil Hayes expertly writes about how this translates to the game of life. The 2002 team, which is profiled in the book, inherited a history - but they were still kids who had to go out and win football games. They had to play at the best levels imaginable. Digging deep as individuals and as a team to carry on the winning tradition of their school.

I was moved by the story, but touched at my soul by the thought of "the ceiling". Wow, I wondered, do I deliver everything at the level of my own ceiling? The answer is often "no", and that is a hard pill to swallow.

Look at your own game of life. Are you giving 100% as a boss, an employee, a husband or wife, a father or mother, a son or daughter, neighbor, friend, volunteer, etc...? We are all lured in by the ease of just giving enough. Viewing those around us and knowing we can easily "get by" with a standard level of effort.

Although I have never played football (or any sport at a top level!), sports are an ideal metaphor for life. We all admire stories of teams like De La Salle, or individual athletes who reach the top of their game. We instinctively respect their natural talent, but it is the extra effort that they put in and the extraordinary commitment to practice that makes them great.

I want to find my ceiling in every area of my life. We are cheating those around us, and ourselves, when we do not give it 100%. If we are unsure of how good we can be, how will any of us deliver that stellar performance that can impact the world?

But the search for that personal excellence is difficult. Time, egos, demanding schedules, expectations of others, and all sorts of things cloud out judgment. Life has a way of throwing a penalty flag from time to time and sending us backward. The pain and fear can make us forget our desire to excel. It is easy to rest on being good enough.

I want to stand tall as a husband, as a father, as a business professional, as a friend, as a brother, as a member of my church and community, and as a person. I want to deliver all of myself to those around me. Yet wanting and doing are not always the same thing.

While I do a good job in all these areas, I have not yet found my ceiling in any of them - and we are approaching half-time. While I don't have Bob Ladouceur waiting for me on the sidelines, I do have my own "coaches" and my own "team" who challenge me to reach inside myself and discover more grit and determination than I ever imagined. For that I am grateful!

Recognizing those around us who are are teams and coaches is sometimes the first step. Acknowledging how we can help each other and then delivering is what makes the difference. We live in a "Lone Ranger" society that champions the accomplishments of the individual, but that is not reality. The cliche that TEAM means "Together Everyone Accomplishes More" is really the truth.

I hope this post makes you think about exploring the heights of your own ceiling. I imagine that performing our lives at that top level is really the nirvana we all seek. Touch Down!

Have A Great Day.



Chris Graff said...

Great post, Thom!

Matt Scherer baseball nerd said...


As always a great blog post. It's a good way to start a Sunday before church.


MiGrant said...

Very inspiring! I hope you'll continue to explore what it means to give our all for a team. For a soloist, sometimes it's hard just knowing who is on our team, much less what to do to help it win.

Tim said...

My favortie post of the month. I like to think of it as the end of the first quarter, not half time. Welcome to river front property on D'Nile!

Crazy Pants said...

Hi Thom, I wandered over after reading your comment at problogger about sharing your struggles as a way to help other. What an inspiring and uplifting post, thank you.

popps said...

Hi, i was reading your post after following the 31 day challenge.

It reminded me of something - years ago i was responsible for a chruch soccer team that was challenged by another church to a match.

My teams approach was for the 11 players to all charge at the ball so i spent the preparation time trying to teach zonal play and passing.

the big day came and towards the end of the game my team was loosing 19 -0.

I called them together and said "forget what i told you, go do what you want'.

freed, they screamed and all rushed at the ball, the opposition goalkeeper saw them coming, panicked and the ball bounced into the net, just before the final whistle.

I'm not sure what the lesson was?


Eugene Sepulveda said...