As I watch my beloved Washington Redskins team finish off another disappointing season, I find myself drifting back to the good old days. We had a great owner in Jack Kent Cooke, a great coach in Joe Gibbs, great players like Joe Theismann, John Riggins, Darrell Green, Art Monk, the Fun Bunch, the Hogs, and so many more. But in my mind, the true hero of the franchise was a man named Bobby Beathard.
So what was his secret? He believed in avoiding the temptation of being blinded by the skill of a player, and instead, he looked for the raw athleticism and the will of the player. He had little interest in searching for a player who was displaying all sorts of talent now. He was much more interested in a player who was displaying all sorts of athletic ability and heart. He felt the skills could always be taught – but not the will.
Isn’t it funny how lessons like this can quietly enter into the fabric of our soul? I was just graduating from college when I read about Bobby Beathard and when I learned those lessons firsthand, and yet, it continues to be a very powerful concept to me. The concept, skill versus will, resonated with me, and it empowered me.
I totally believed that will would win over skill, and I began to unconsciously gravitate to various events to prove it. After years of battling against my lack of size in basketball, I started running distance races. I started with a 10k, and then I began to run half marathons, then marathons, and beyond. These events were events that had little to do with height or muscle. These were events that isolated the will from the skill, and I loved them.
To this day, I still search for various tests of “will versus skill.” My most recent test was a climb I made to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro last month. I wrote a lengthy story about it, but I’ll save you the trouble of having to read it. I pulled a few muscles in training, injured an ankle, had some gear that was less than perfect, and I battled a stomach that decided it didn’t want to eat for six days. It was a bit humbling, and at times, a tad embarrassing because I couldn’t help but compare myself to the other climbers next to me. But when it came to the actual climb from 15,000’ to 19,341’, or as I called it, “Skill vs. Will Day,” I was finally in my element, and I could not have been happier.
I don’t tell you about this because I want to brag: Believe me, I wasn’t a pretty sight to see when I came off that mountain. I tell this to you to remind you about you! We have a new year coming up. If you’ve read my BLArticles,® you know how I feel about New Years. If it’s been a tough year, it’s just about behind you. If it’s been a good year, why would you not be excited to jump into the new one that’s just about here? It’s a can’t miss holiday!
Why can’t this be your year? What’s holding you back… a lack of skill? You’ll learn the skill because almost anyone can learn the skill. It’s overrated anyhow. What everyone cannot learn is the will, and yet, that’s something that is 100% in your control. There are no barriers of entry, and all you need is a personal hunger, a willingness to work hard, a desire to succeed, and a belief in you. As a matter of fact, the only real obstacle to tapping into your will is that you have to make a conscious effort to do so.
Happy holidays, and here’s to a wonderful New Year. Make it a year where you feel empowered to test your will. Win, lose, or draw, I promise, if you do, it will be a year you’ll never forget.