I was watching an old episode of Hard Knocks on HBO last week. The show chronicled the Houston Texans as they prepared for the NFL season. The head coach of the Texans is Bill O’Brien. He has a 16 year old son, Jack, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder that prevents him from walking, talking, and being able to feed himself. He has up to 10 seizures a day. It was hard to have a dry eye hearing his story and all he has gone through. And yet he is incredibly happy. He was shown interacting with his parents with a smile on his face. His parents said that is typical of his demeanor.
As I have reflected on that, it just reinforces how much of our world is determined by our attitude. It is so easy to fall into a trap of focusing on the negative and everything that is going wrong in our lives. Everyone has adversity. This is especially true at this moment in time. It seems that no matter where we look, we see anger, complaining and a focus on the negative. It is so easy to fall into the trap of focusing our attention on all the things that aren’t going well. However, most of us don’t have adversity like Jack O’Brien. If he can go through his day focused on all the good things going on around him, I ought to be able to do the same.
One of the people I follow on Twitter is named Sam Allen, and he is a basketball coach in Atlanta. Every day he tweets this tweet with today’s date:
“Great day to 2b Alive! U only get 1 chance to do August 1, 2020. Might as well go LIVE it, enjoy it & make a positive impact on ppl around U”
It is so simple but so true. I love the saying about making the most of today because it’s the oldest we’ve ever been and the youngest we will ever be! No matter what we do tomorrow it can’t make up for a wasted today. Every day we have a chance to make a difference if we have a positive attitude and live in the moment. We can’t change the past and we can’t control the future. All we can do is make the best of what’s going on right now. (We constantly talk about this idea with our players of ‘playing present’ during the game of basketball). Right now, we are experiencing a ‘setback’ in terms of being able to do activities as a team. What we’ve tried to stress to our players is not to view it as a setback but as an opportunity to improve on their own and take control of their own development. Those with that type of mindset will come back better from this break.
I recently read an interesting way to reframe our daily tasks. . . the idea is this – every time you are going to say “I have to. . .” change it to “I get to. . .” so instead of “I have to go to practice” or “I have to run errands” rephrase it as “I get to go to practice” or “I get to run errands”. This simple change in the sentence can be very powerful. It helps us remember that we are fortunate to get to do the things that many people (like Jack O’Brien) would give anything to do.
One other idea in this regard is the “No Complaining Rule” based on Jon Gordon’s book of the same title. The idea is that you are not allowed to complain unless you offer a solution to the problem you are complaining about. The lesson is that it’s okay to have those feelings, but it’s counterproductive to wallow in them and not work to change them. We are going to try this idea with our team this year. While the last few months have been challenging and frustrating in many ways, they’ve also provided blessings. For example, we have gotten to spend so much time together as family. In fact, we will probably never have another opportunity to spend this amount of time together. When I think about that, I am very grateful.
I have a lot of work to do with the topics in this blog. However, seeing someone like Jack O’Brien provides me motivation to be a better person and maximize every day I am lucky enough to have. And for that I am thankful!