Since I’ve been a motivational speaker and writer for decades, I’ve seen all the “trendy” terms and words come and go. One of the new ones that seemed to accompany “millennials” is “Resilience”, and not in a complimentary fashion. Of course, nothing is “absolute” so not “all” millennials struggle with mental health and self-confidence and many are very strong people. I’m actually very proud to have an award named after me. It’s called “The Alvin Law Resiliency Award” and is an internal recognition for a corporate coaching company licensed by Brian Tracy called “Focal Point International”. For transparency, they’re also a client but I didn’t pay for the honour…I Earned It!
On Sunday, February 2nd, 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs won the National Football League championship, aka…The Super Bowl! Americans love to call the winners “World Champs” and that’s not only inaccurate but pretty conceited. I love the Canadian Football League, or CFL and actually believe it’s a much harder game to play than the NFL version but I’m not writing this blog to get into a football debate. In fact, neither league should use the word “Football” because “soccer” is actually “Football”, but again, I digress.
You may or may not know, or care, that the last time Kansas City won the Super Bowl was 1970. That’s a long time. That’s a loyal fanbase. But waiting fifty years to win a prize isn’t “Resiliency”, it’s “Patience”. I’m using this example to discuss something very “personal” to me, but also show “I’m not unique”, and I absolutely love this story.
As a sport statistic, it’s intriguing that the 2019-20 Kansas City Chief’s won three playoff games in a row, and they came from over ten points behind in each game to win. That’s never been done in the history of the NFL.
Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid, won his first Vince Lombardy Trophy, emblematic of the NFL Championship, in his 222nd game in the league. He coached the Philadelphia Eagles for fourteen years and Kansas City for seven. His achievement is absolutely an example of “Resilience”.
But who inspired me to write this is Patrick Mahomes. He is the quarterback of the Chiefs. He was voted Most Valuable Player in the entire NFL last year. He was chosen MVP of this year’s Super Bowl, the youngest in history! Oh, he’s 24 years old! How is this possible? What’s really cool about his story to me is he had about as normal an upbringing as it gets, aside from the fact his dad was a Major League Baseball pitcher. He does not hide his faith but he’s not overt about it either. According to Wikipedia, he’s even had the same girlfriend since his Sophomore year in high school in Tyler, Texas. And clearly, he is a remarkably talented athlete. But most important, he didn’t do it alone.
The Biggest Enemy Is The One In A Mirror
You see, I believe we’ve been lulled into this romantic notion that “Resiliency” is defined by how huge your struggle in life is. That element does exist, of course. Nelson Mandela would be a great example. Man, was he resilient? Actually, I’d be a good one too, which explains my named award. Funny thing is, my “Never Give Up Attitude” I wrote about in my first book, “Alvin’s Laws of Life” is directly connected to Resilience. It’s also one my “Laws”.
Never Give Up! Easy to say, hard to do. The biggest enemy we will ever have we encounter every time we look in a mirror. Yet mirrors do not reflect who we truly are…our lives do!
From my perspective of never having arms, challenges came with the life. It wasn’t a surprise. Yet so many people seem shocked when adversity hits them. Even more important and indeed this may be perceived as judgmental, some folks make very poor choices that contribute greatly to their misfortune. One of those “choices” is who we surround ourselves with. And trust me, it’s a Choice! In my world, I discovered a strange irony. When I was an adolescent, I struggled with self esteem…who doesn’t? I wanted to be “popular”. I wanted to hang out with the “popular” people. It seemed I wasn’t “cool” enough! Around the same time, I was playing trombone in school band. If you didn’t know, I had it mounted on the side of a wooden chair with metal rods and clamps and used the slide with my right foot. Trust me, playing trombone didn’t make me “more cool”. In fact, I can’t believe we got made fun of for “being in band”.
But then I went to “band camp”, or specifically, jazz band camp. Going to camp was a brand new thing for me. In my hometown, I may have been uncool, but at least I wasn’t a stranger. There was a small benefit in that I wasn’t the only jazz band player going from Yorkton and the camp was also in Saskatchewan at a beautiful place called “Fort San”!
I was understandably nervous. But all it took was the first night. We had a jazz faculty, most from the United States, and man, could they play! The first night included dinner in the dining room with all the campers and staff and then a concert by the faculty band! I’m wondering if you, my reader has ever experienced a moment of sheer bliss?
That’s what happened to me. I can’t speak for the other folks from Yorkton but pretty safe guessing they experienced the same. It was like a huge religious rally, minus the evangelist! I still get goosebumps recalling it! By the way, I had also been playing a crappy, old, collection of drums I made into a set, but not well. A bunch of us were “jamming” one afternoon and I wanted to show off how I could play drums. We got surprised by a couple of faculty and one was the drumming prof, Jack Mouse. He was floored at my methodology and then “coached me up” to encourage my skill development and if you’ve watched me play drums, it obviously had an impact. I even got my first set of real drums, Ludwig brand, Zildjian cymbals and pro hardware. Still have them. I’m not sure if I was cool, but after jazz camp, I felt cool. I also “bonded” with the other musicians from Yorkton and they became my friends. Before, I was bullied a bit by myself. Now we had a group who got made fun of and honestly, we could have cared less. We found our “tribe”.
Not Based On Ego
Not everyone gets to be on a “team”, but when you do, something magical can happen. It’s simple, really. You are now “Accountable”, which by the way, is another “buzz word” in corporate and organizational culture and it’s lack thereof! If you are fortunate enough to have a great “Leader”, the collective can become “Resilient” as a group exercise. But it must, and I mean “MUST” not be based on ego! A major problem in pro sports is a player who is more interested in their personal stats than the team! It is all too common! In fact, it is this dilemma that comes up with, as an example, teams like the New York Yankees. On paper, they should have won the last 20 World Series (not the real world again, by the way. They also play pro baseball in Japan and countless other countries), but they haven’t. That’s curious, huh?
But this is also about personal energy and a commitment…to yourself! When you allow the world to “get you down”, it’s like playing a sport with an injury. By the way, Patrick Mahomes was being interviewed after the Super Bowl wine and apologies for the graphic nature of this story, but in the middle of the season and during a game, he dislocated his knee cap. He said, “I knew something was wrong when I got hit, and after I hit the ground, I looked at my knee and the knee cap was on the side of my leg and yeah, my first thought was…I’m done. My Super Bowl dream was finished. But after I had time to assess what I was going to do, I realized this wasn’t about me. It was about the team. Like it or not, the quarterback is the leader, so I just had to lead…by example. And look what happened. Never Lose Faith!”
Or “Never Give Up”! I was indeed, very fortunate, to have a Mom and Dad who had remarkable faith, positive energy and their own “Resilience”. They literally used what they’d been through as a couple and as a family to school me on what it would take for me to succeed in my life. Being negative makes success almost impossible, so then people start “blaming”, or “make excuses” and ultimately, anger and resentment for their own lives becomes their “normal”. Make no mistake, that’s also a “Choice”. Which one are you making?
But no matter what, you “Cannot” get resiliency from Amazon or GrubHub! It’s simply a habit that comes from living through the inevitable “ups and downs” that are the cost of being human. In one of life’s great ironies, parents with unmistakably good intentions want to remove the obstacles in their children’s lives. I’m a Dad. I hated seeing my son struggle. He’s 34 years old now and is incredibly resilient. I take zero credit. That’s why I’ve “always” said, “Bad Can Be Good”, but “No Bad, No Good”! No matter what strategy you employ, we only get one life, “Good or Bad” and we are one step away from a “Journey to our own Super Bowl”! Isn’t it worth a try?