The NFL Draft was last weekend. I don’t normally watch too much of it. Instead, I usually just keep up with when the Cowboys are up and see who they take through social media or something. This year, though—mainly because I was desperate for some form of sports and there was nothing else on TV thanks to Coronavirus—I ended up watching most of the first round.
It was interesting to see the differences this year because of everyone having to be quarantined at home. Many of the high-dollar suits and red carpet walks were replaced by casual clothes (a robe in one case) and sitting with family huddled (socially distanced, of course) around the TV waiting in anticipation.
One of the aspects that I’ve enjoyed most when I’ve watched the draft in the past is the backstories highlighting how the player got to where they are now. They don’t do them for everyone (though, I think they missed an opportunity to do more this year), but the ones they do highlight have some pretty amazing journies. Whether it’s overcoming the challenges of homelessness and worrying where your next meal is coming from, avoiding the peer pressure of those who claim to be your friend, or how a brother put football on hold to be a bone marrow donor for his sister (Austin Jackson selected 18th overall by Miami), these stories add connection and depth to players we often only view as athletes. They also show us just how much getting drafted can mean not just to them, but to their entire family. It can literally change the course of their families for generations to come.
So, in one sense it makes sense that so much weight is placed on getting drafted and the event itself… it’s a day that can change everything.
But as I watched it, as I listened to some of their stories, and as I witnessed them celebrating with their families, my mind couldn’t help but turn to thinking more about why it all meant so much. Sure, a large portion of it is because of the money and financial security that can come from playing in the NFL. As I said, that can change families for generations to come. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think, perhaps, it has to do more with the journey than even the result or reward.
A single moment made of millions.
See, when we watch the draft we really only get to witness the glitz and glamor of the payoff. We get fast forwarded to the end of the movie, if you will. But for the players and families, draft day is only made possible by the thousands of days and millions of moments that came before it.
The 4AM wake ups to workout before school when they just wanted to stay in bed until, you know, like 6AM. (still way too early, by the way.)
Staying at practice late to get in a few more reps and then having to go home and stay up late doing homework.
Trying to figure out how to fit in time for a job to take a bit of the weight off of their parents.
Giving up going on vacations to attend summer practices.
Enduring the pain of yesterday’s workout while doing today’s.
The list could go on and on.
You see, those were the days that changed everything.
Every day, every decision, every act of perseverance, and grit, and pushing just a little bit harder when they’re not sure if they can keep going at all; they’re the days that changed their future. Because, they didn’t have to do any of it. I’m sure there were countless times when they could’ve chosen not work out, or to get that extra hour of sleep, or to skip a few practices so they could go on vacation with their family, or even to hang it all up and go a different path, but they chose not to. They knew from the beginning what the dream was and what the end could look like if they were willing to stay the course and put in the work… even when they didn’t want to.
It reminds me of a quote from the book “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.
“Begin with the end in mind.”
Covey explains how when we begin by examining our deepest values and the desired goals and end product that flow out of those values, we are far more likely to persevere because we know both what the end can look like, and that the desired end came from deep within us.
I think that’s true for everyone, not just those trying to make it to the NFL.
It’s the choosing to persevere and keep going in the face of everyday challenges that lead us and enable us to even make it to the big “turning point” events in our lives. Maybe for you it looks like one of these…
•Your desire to be in better shape, where you have to commit to exercising and eating healthier on a regular basis. That means going for a run when you’d rather sleep in. Or instead of getting waffle fries with your Chick-fil-a, only get them every other time and get a salad or fruit the other times. (I mean, come on, you have to get the waffle fries sometimes. I can’t eat them anymore so, I need to live vicariously through you!)
•Or wanting to be more involved in your community. That takes effort (though, not much) and commitment to finding something and somewhere you can connect with and begin to help. So, instead of going to a movie you decide to go help out at a homeless shelter.
•Maybe you feel like you’re not pushing yourself mentally anymore, like you’ve stopped learning new things. Changing that takes the discipline of making time to read, listen to an audio book or podcast, or even taking an online class.
•In the same way, maybe you know that you want to go to a certain university—or just go to college period. To do that though, you have to put in the work in middle and high school—doing homework, studying, getting extra help where you need it—so that ultimately you can end up getting in to the college or university of your choice.
•Or perhaps it’s your faith where, if you want to truly deepen your relationship with Jesus, you have to be intentional about setting aside time to spend in prayer and reading the Bible.
It’s in doing these things where the transformation takes place and we reach heights that we never thought were possible.
And believe me, I know that they might sound mundane and boring. In fact, it physically pained me to write those sentences about doing homework and studying because, I could hear a chorus of my mom and all my teachers saying together, “see, I told you so!” The reality is though, many of the things we know we need to do most start out as mundane and boring. But it’s in those everyday moments, where both the knowledge of the end goal and allowing perseverance to kick in, that we begin to find joy in these practices.
I read a quote recently from Phillips Brooks,
“Some day, in the years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now… Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long continued process.”
Building up the muscles, just like an athlete who wants to make it to the NFL does, of discipline and perseverance will help us to be prepared when challenges and the big opportunities do come. We can take comfort in the knowledge that we’re prepared and we have the abilities necessary to succeed. Because in reality, the NFL Draft—or for us the big opportunity—is just the beginning.
For all the emphasis placed on getting drafted and its life changing effects, if they don’t continue to perform, continue to put in the everyday hard work, they’re not going to make it very long in the league. The same goes for you and I. If we get in to the college we want and suddenly stop studying or doing our homework, we’re probably not going to be there very long. And if we’re growing closer and closer in our relationship with Jesus, but then one day decide that we don’t really need to read the Bible anymore because we know everything we need to… well, for one, congratulations on being the only other person besides Jesus (God) to understand the infinite knowledge and ways of the Creator of the universe. Second, your relationship—just like any other relationship you stop putting effort into—is going to stagnate and eventually begin to crumble. No, we have to keep going, keep putting in the effort, and keep persevering. But the good news is, we already know how to and we already know that we can because, just like they show at the draft, we can look back and see our own highlight reel of how we got here.
So the next time you watch a draft—whether it’s NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc—or the next time you get offered a promotion, or get in to the college you want, or feel your faith deepening, or feel stronger and healthier, take a moment to stop and think about all the life changing moments that came before this one. And when things get hard and you’re just about to throw in the towel and call it quits, remember where you’re going, remember all the life changing moments that are ahead of you, and remember the power you have inside yourself to change the future now.
Well, those are my remARCs. I hope they in some way, big or small, might have resonated with you. Whether it made you laugh, cry (I hope not too much), smile, or maybe think about life from a different perspective, I hope you take something away from this article that makes your day even the slightest bit better. I’d love to hear your remARCs as well. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment on the My RemARCs Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages… unless you hated it. In which case, why are you even still reading this? Hope to see you back here soon. Until then, be well and live remARCably.