If you've known me for even the briefest amount of time, you've probably heard me say "Oreo. Extra Oreo" on more than just a handful of occasions. You've likely even heard me complain, at length, when the ratio of Oreo to ice cream simply wasn't sufficient. Even if you share my obsessive love for cookies 'n' cream, you may be struggling to connect the dots between it and tennis, another one of my passions. I'll come around to that shortly, but, first, I'll share a very applicable quote by the immortal coach Paul "Bear" Bryant:
"It's not the will to win that matters - everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."
Over the course of my life, I have seen this brilliant quote proven true time and time again and even more frequently during the past eleven years I've spent teaching and coaching. Of the hundreds of students and student-athletes I've had the privilege of working with, I can't recall one whose goals included mediocrity. Both groups want to do or be the best. They want to get the perfect score. They want to make varsity, play at the top of the lineup, be conference champions and state qualifiers. Everyone has the will to win.
Where we fall short (and we all have) is that we have trouble connecting what we have to what we want and what we're doing to what we're getting. For me, the disconnect comes in the form, most often, of "Oreo. Extra Oreo." In January alone, I spent every penny of the over $100 worth of ice cream related gift cards, (Culver's, DQ, Baskin-Robbins, Oberweis) and then some, on "Oreo. Extra Oreo." While, in truth, my days of competitive athletics are behind me, I still hold onto the same competitive desire I've always had. Everyone who knows just how much I love "Oreo. Extra Oreo," likely also knows how competitive I am. While every year I see students and athletes set goals for personal excellence and fail to commit to the work necessary to reach those goals, I must admit that I too have repeatedly failed to reconcile my personal goals with my actions. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, I've repeatedly used "Oreo. Extra Oreo." to sabotage my efforts to reach my goals.
While my goals include getting back into shape and focusing on flexibility to alleviate back issues aggravated by extra weight and inflexibility, making another attempt at a 3:10 marathon, and regaining the timing and mobility to compete, to some degree, on the tennis court and soccer field, my Goal is to set a better example for my students and student-athletes. We all want to experience success, but we must be very conscious of shifting our focus. As Bear Bryant would agree, wanting to win means nothing. It is merely a byproduct of being willing to work hard.
I think we all have our "Oreo. Extra Oreo." to some extent. It is that thing that keeps holding us back, that nagging pessimistic voice in the back of our head. The problem is that that voice sounds so convincing, so "on our side." We can't see the damage that voice is doing, we see it being a convenient excuse we wrap ourselves in like a favorite blanket. It puts up a barrier of "could haves" and "would haves," we hold like a shield. Only until much later we see that we're really holding regrets and "what ifs?"
I hope you will all take a moment to reflect on your goals and the obstacles you have set in your path. What is your "Oreo. Extra Oreo."? Would you join me in naming your self-sabotage and committing yourself to removing it from your path?
Just for the 'record,' the "Oreo. Extra Oreo" Blizzard I had last night (the ratio of Oreo to ice cream was exceptional) will be my last for some time. Best of luck to you as you clear your path and discover your will to prepare to win.
All the best,