What’s Inside of You?

star-gazing

Photo by Dave Dugdale, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

There are billions of stars in the sky and what makes them all shine is what is on the inside of them. Playing sports for most of my life taught me so many valuable lessons that helped me in so many ways.

One thing I have learned is that having all the right attributes and skills might get you in the door, but they won’t keep you in the room. It is so important to take the time to work on what’s inside of you, because it’s what’s inside of you that will help you achieve true success.

Your talent can only take you so far in life, but it is what is on the inside of you that will keep you grounded and take you to a whole new level.   Yes, we are supposed to stand out from the crowd and be a reflection of God, but in order to be successful and stay successful, we must first work on those inner qualities like humility, character, integrity, honoring others, and determination that will help us reach our full potential.

Society tells you that you need to look a certain way and so much is based on appearance. Such as, if you look perfect, then you will get your dream job or fit in with the cool kids.  Or if you dress the part, then you get the part and on and on.  However, what’s inside of you is what determines your longevity and success.  Yes, I believe the way you present yourself is very important but I also strongly believe your outer beauty must be supported by inner beauty and strength.  In my own experience in the NFL, I was technically not supposed to make it because  it looked as though I was too small, not fast enough, or not strong enough.  I believe it is the intangible qualities I took time to develop that allowed me to make it despite the odds against me.  If  someone measured my heart, focus, and perseverance than they would realize that it was a lot bigger than 5’6.  As the saying goes, talent will take you there, but character is what will keep you there.

Make the stars take notice of you by shining brighter!

STAY FOCUSED

Focused

Photo Credit – Houston Chronicle

I frequently get asked what it was like to catch a NFL punt. Well, imagine this. There are nearly 70,000 fans cheering all around me. I run onto the field on 4th down and get in position, all the while, listening to the crowd. The ground shakes beneath me  like an earthquake as the stadium rumbles with excitement and noise. There are cameras flashing, sports reporters walking up and down the sidelines and the mascot and cheerleaders are pumping up the crowd. I can see fans at the other end zone screaming for me to run it back to their side. The excitement makes you feel invincible, like you could run through a wall.  No pressure, right?

As a punt/kick returner I’m standing by myself about 45-50 yards from the rest of the players. If I drop the ball, there is no one to blame but myself because it’s just me on an island.  If I drop the ball it could cost me my job or my career in the NFL.  I hear fans chanting, J J—Moses! It all becomes so loud that I can barely hear myself think. I pace back and forth as I wait for the ball to be punted towards me. Now, I must begin to clear my head. I get calm and relaxed. I look at the eleven other football  players from the opposing team, many of which look like Hercules. I can see it in their face and almost hear their prayers, “God, please let me destroy this guy!” And so I begin to pray, “Lord, please let me catch this football and run!”  Typically, my prayer would always get answered.

When the ball is punted, I hear the boom from the sound of the punter’s foot kicking the ball. Everything goes silent and into slow motion.  Like being shot out of a cannon, the ball goes nearly 100 feet in the air in a circular motion. The stadium is pin drop silent and my mind becomes quiet. Cheering fans and pacing reporters are no longer in sight, just a slight view of the opposing players fiercely running towards me. At first, the ball disappears in the air, however, I am so intensely focused I begin to see the laces on the football spinning from left to right. I can’t afford to take my eyes off the ball for one second. Against the vastness of the stadium, the football looks like a small rock in the air but within seconds comes into plain view dropping out of the air. As the ball approaches me in those final seconds, I feel exhilaration and a sense of hurry. I catch the ball and in an instant, like a reverse vacuum everything speeds up 100 times faster, the screams of fans pour back into the air, and the eleven players rushing towards me put the pressure on. Now, it’s up to me to trust my instincts.

Life is similar to catching a punt. You have to remain focused despite what comes your way. Your focus will keep you safe, give you success, and take you to a whole new level. Concentrate on the goal or dream that is within you. Block out distractions that come in the form of people, habits, and behaviors. Put the vision out in front of you so you won’t become easily distracted.

Just like in life, composure in the midst of pressure, allows for better decisions and better outcomes.  Don’t sweat the small stuff – worrying about your challenge does not fix anything. Focus your thoughts and your energy towards solutions and success.

“If you worry or panic about the small, day-to-day events in life, you won’t be prepared for the big ones.” Rudolph Giuliani