#1431 Champions Finish Strong

So Do Heroes. Do YOU?

In our last +1, we talked about Darrin Donnelly’s 15 Rules of Grit from his great “Sports for the Soul” fable Old School Grit.

Today we’re going to talk about Rule #4.



Here’s the quick recap of all 15 Rules:

Rule #1: Don’t Accept Your Fate, Create Your Destiny
Rule #2: You’ll Only Achieve What You Believe You Can Achieve
Rule #3: Embrace the Pressure
Rule #4: Finish Strong
Rule #5: Find Something You Love to Do and Stick with It
Rule #6: Keep Moving Forward
Rule #7: Put the Needs of Others Above Your Own
Rule #8: Live for a Purpose Greater than Yourself
Rule #9: Eliminate Negative Influences
Rule #10: Effort Trumps Talent
Rule #11: Focus on Only the Things You Can Control
Rule #12: Don’t Waste a Day
Rule #13: Life Is a Series of Wins and Lessons
Rule #14: Don’t Put Off Pursuing Your Dreams
Rule #15: Don’t Quit. Don’t Ever Quit

Here’s the story from the fable to bring the wisdom of Rule #4 to life…

Darrin’s Hero-Guide-Coach tells us: “In the locker room prior to our championship game, I wrote two words on the whiteboard in front of my players: Finish Strong.

‘It’s easy to start strong,’ I told them. ‘Everybody can start strong. Whether it’s a season or a game, everyone starts off excited, positive, and enthusiastic. Everyone starts off full of energy and optimism. But fellas, after more than four decades of coaching, I’ve learned that while everybody starts strong, only champions finish strong.’”

He continues by saying: “It’s a fact of life I’ve seen hammered home over my many years as a coach: things are usually toughest right before a breakthrough moment. ... It’s funny how quickly life can turn around if you keep pushing forward and expecting things to be most difficult right before they get drastically better.”

Then he tells us: “You have to expect your most challenging moment right before your greatest victory. Remember this the next time you feel like you can’t catch a break or you start questioning whether you have what it takes to accomplish your dreams.”

To make his philosophical point with a hammer, he tells us: “Everybody starts strong, but champions finish strong.”

I thought of a number of things when I read that passage on finishing strong in Rule #4.

I thought of one of my most influential mentors when I was running my first business. I thought of the Sanskrit word for being a hero in the beginning. And, I thought of Napoleon Hill and his parallel wisdom on success coming RIGHT after we almost give up.

Let’s discuss each now.

First, my mentor.

As we’ve discussed, way back in the day when I had more hair and less gray whiskers, I was a 25-year-old Founder/CEO running my first company. It was the 1999/2000 dot-com boom era. Our business was called eteamz.

We won the business competition at UCLA’s business school. We had raised $5M. We were a pretty exciting start-up that blended sports and technology. Dartboard in my office. Ping pong table in the boardroom. The full deal. 🤓

We were blessed to hire the CEO of adidas to replace me as the young CEO. Then the market crashed. Rather than going out and raising our next big round, we had to deal with some HUGE obstacles to survive—which is precisely when he told me what Coach Flanagan told his players as they were getting ready for a March Madness NCAA game.

He told me: “It’s easy to START something. It’s a lot harder to FINISH it strong.”

I’m proud of how our team responded to those challenges as I earned my first batch of gray whiskers. We endured the tough times and wound up creating a positive return for our investors while ultimately serving millions of families involved in youth sports with our platform.

As we discuss in Passage Meditation (and The Art of Taking Action), Eknath Easwaran tells us that this idea of starting something strong and then tip-toeing out the back door when things get hard has been so common for so long that, THOUSANDS of years ago, the ancient sages of India came up for a word for it.

In Sanskrit, they call it arambhashura which literally means “To be a hero in the beginning.”

Not what we’re looking for.

Heroes finish strong.

Then there’s Napoleon Hill.

In Think and Grow Rich, he tells us: “Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step *beyond* the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”

That’s Today’s +1.

Remember Rule #4 of Old School Grit.

Heroes finish strong.

Day 1. All in.


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