When I started playing ball. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to end up in The Hall of Fame. I wanted to be remembered as one of the greatest. I wanted the riches and the lifestyle that came with being one of the greatest. I didn’t nor do I think of it as excess. I think of it as freedom. I built my life around attaining that freedom, at all cost. Though I had a goal and a vision, my perspective was a thorn in my side. I was in the search of attainment of material goods, things that I thought would allow me to live a life that I wanted. Things that over time have lost its significance. I was only worried about the destination, I completely lost track of the journey. The journey is the here and now. The journey is maximizing the moment in front of you. It’s about one foot in front of the other. Or one piece at a time.”A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”-didn’t look it up
As a person, I’m always looking to learn from life in the most unlikeliest of places, so this thought comes there. I think the key to life is the secret understanding of connect the dots. In life there’s always a picture there, always but you cannot see it at the beginning. So you have to connect the dots that you can see, the ones that are right in front of you. Go from one point to the next until, until the image becomes clear. In life, is it not the same? A scattering of dots, waiting to be connected, so the picture of your life can form. It’s focusing on the next immediate step that fields the most results. Each dot connects to the next, even though it can be waaaaaay across the page. But nonetheless the image is there the entire time, in life, what makes our soul happy is usually sitting right under you nose but you have to search. And there’s risk.
Throughout my journey to master the here and now, frequently I lost. I was the king of looking ahead and voiding the moment. Business, sports, inter-person relationships…entrepreneurship, self…all have endured loss. Throughout my journey in the NFL, I had to endure the storm. The risk is the uncertainty of what you will find and how it changes you. This is something that most people are afraid of or uncomfortable with. So they don’t connect the dots. Throughout every journey, there is loss. It’s what you learn from the loss that’s critical.
“Rough seas won’t last forever but they make very skilled providing an opportunity for people learn and develop. You have to be ready to maximize the return of failure strategically.”-Me
When I think about the material things that I used to desire, I think about the freedom that I have now that those are not important to me. As I set out on the next leg of my journey, I am able to start with what I learned from the previous leg. It always is and always will be about the journey and not the destination. The journey is so much more enjoyable when you accept it for what it is and not feel the desire to change what actually is. This is where you begin to see the various shades of dots life has scattered in front of us. Being open to the journey, is being open to learning. There is another part, the destination. Imagine if you’re driving 500 miles over to the nearest city. That’s your destination. The journey is how you enjoy the drive. Are you so focused on getting there, that you pass up all of the life inspiring beauty that nature has provided us? We all have to slow down and see the forest and the trees, we have to stop and smell the roses, this keeps you moving forward. These are the little moments of victory.
With all of this said, let me get to my point now. I wanted so bad to make it to the Hall of Fame, my focus was narrow. I endured plenty of spiritual pain seeking this end. I wanted to be like the Ndamukong Suh’s of the world. When this wasn’t the case, I felt defeated. I felt as if my journey was a complete failure. I was unable to see the immense blessings that I received along the way. I lost sight of my progress because life changed my GPS. While playing, I was never fully able to enjoy the experience of living my dream because I always wanted what I didn’t have. The space between my reality and desires led to almost fatal levels of disappointment. These are the ills of a mind focused on the wrong things, focused on the destination. Your sight becomes limited. I’m heartbroken that one of the greatest times of my life was marred by poor perspective.
It’s only right now, looking back from a higher vantage point that I see how blessed I was. I also had core values and principles that led my journey. I was a team player first. I never worried about making plays, I focused on making sure everyone else made the plays they’re supposed to make. I’d make my plays when I needed to make them. I was a relentless student of the game, very few people in the league were more prepared for than me. I knew everything about the offense every week and was able to give valuable tips and pointers to my teammates, namely my running mate Suh. Through the values that made me a great teammate, those are the values I live by. People respect that. I realize that luckily, I didn’t take many shortcuts and I gave it my best. I thought it went unnoticed and unseen. But it did not.
I became brothers with one of the most connected and most established players in the league. All because of respect. I decided that my journey was much less intense than Suh’s. So I wanted to help him achieve maximum greatness. Many times I studied the offensive guards and created cut ups to confirm tendencies that I found that can give you an extra step or two. I shared it instead of holding onto it. I recognized I was a role player. Often times I was like an on field caddie providing live insights, to someone who was better than me.
Through this relationship, I’ve been able to meet some of the coolest smartest people in America. People who I could only dream of connecting with. But through my friendship, I just have to be me. A good teammate and good things will come.
I came to peace at the end of my career that I would not be the Hall of Fame player, but I could still strive to be a Hall of Fame human. This time free from the trappings of the mind. I can use the same lessons I learned harshly, to divert course and mitigate risk. A true blessing, only because I was able to step away from the desire for material gain, finding Zen in the Art of Being a Good Teammate.