Our last blog was dedicated to the legacy of Ken Ravizza who inspired everyone to be high achievers in sport, and more importantly, in life. Our next blog series will be on the book Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffrey Marx. As football season approaches, we will be reminded of how the lessons on the gridiron are about more than just winning. Marx was a ballboy with the Baltimore Colts when he first met Joe Ehrmann. After looking up to Ehrmann as a larger than life NFL player, a series of events led Marx to reconnect with Joe as he was a volunteer football coach for Gilman high school. Marx’s book chronicles how Joe taught lessons well beyond the X’s and O’s of football.
In Marx’s book, he outlines one of his favorite afternoon talks from his time with Joe Ehrmann and Gilman football team. Ehrmann was describing a parable in which a man gave three different servants different amounts of “talents” (or units of money). The servant with 5 talents generated 5 more and the servant with 2 talents made 2 more, which was just as pleasing to the man. The servant he had given 1 talent hid his in the ground and did not make good use of it, which rendered him the label “worthless servant.” Ehrmann states, “The question isn’t really how many talents you’ve been given…..the real question is what you do with the ones you have?” He emphasized that some individuals get “paralyzed” when they feel they don’t have the same talents as someone else. However, “the person we really want to honor is the one who maximizes whatever it is he has …someone with great ability but without the work ethic and the right contributions to the team is really negligible to the community.”
Ehrmann and his co-coach challenged their team to bring their talents every day. It didn’t matter how many “talents” the athlete had. If a teammate had 10 “talents” and only brought 5, that was unacceptable. If a teammate had 2 “talents” and brought them every day, that was more important that the teammate who left 5 at home. Like many teams, the Gilman high school football team experienced highs and lows throughout their games and season. The coaches consistently told them the only thing they should be disappointed in is if they didn’t bring their talents. Win or lose, they were expected to bring their talents each and every day.
The concept of bringing your talents might seem as simple as “work hard,” but it’s so much more than that. It’s also about accepting and embracing your role. College athletics draws the best of the best. If you made it to the roster of a college athletics team, it means you had a very successful high school athletics career. Regardless of what level of college sports you play, you are elite…..and so is everyone else. The increased competition can bring out the best or the worst in you. Top athletes in high schools and clubs are now playing other top athletes and there is only so much playing time to go around. There’s no shame in wanting the awards and accolades, but the real value of your contribution is based on whether you brought your talents regardless of the role. If you aren’t in the role you wish you had, you can still focus on being your best in that role, but work as hard as you can to not become complacent. Every day, you can wish your role was bigger as you as you make the most of what your current role is. Our module on Being a Good Teammate has helpful tips on how you can accomplish this.
UpsideDown Performance Quick Tip included with email subscription. Subscribe here!