Outside Looking In

“Play me, Coach!”  For those of you who have played organized sports and had to stand on the sidelines, this is probably a familiar phrase.  For those of you who feel you have the skills, know-how and determination to do bigger and better things, but just can’t because of the circumstances, you most probably relate to the frustration.  The frustration of waiting for the right opportunity.  The frustration of seeing other do while you stand back and watch.  You know that if you could just ‘get in the game’, you would make a difference.

But instead of being given the nod, you have to stand back and wait.  Wait for someone to retire. Wait for someone to ask for your help.  Wait for someone to make up their mind.  Waiting is a tough thing to do, and patience is an increasingly scarce commodity nowadays.  Hey, don’t look at me.  When it comes to personal matters, I have less patience than a hospital in Antarctica.  Not only do I want to start the game, I want the ball in my hands every play.  I make Randy Moss and Keyshawn Johnson look like Buddhist monks!  Spell my name backwards and it’s an acronym for Lotsa’ Instant Gratification!

So when I find myself holding the proverbial clip board, both personally and professionally, I must resist the urge to just snap it in half and say “F it!”  All I think about is how I need to get in the game.  I deserve to get in the game.  “What are you waiting for?  Put me in, coach!”  Yet I know it’s not that simple.  Situations are what they are, and many times the decision makers in our lives are restricted in their ability to make things happen.  Be it office politics, money, or just personal insecurities, many times the situation is beyond anyone’s immediate control and we simply have to wait things out.

So where do you draw the line?  Where do you find that balance between accepting what you have now and finding a new direction for yourself?  Let’s stick with the sports analogies.  Do you pull a Willis McGahee who demanded he start or be traded, or a Damon Huard who fought hard for a chance to start, but is destined to be a career backup?  Willis defied all the odds, came off a gruesome knee injury, and led his team in rushing last season.  Damon was quietly traded from the Dolphins to the Patriots, and although he didn’t start, now owns two Super Bowl rings. And which is better, to be a backup with rings (whoever played backup to Troy Aikman, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw), or a star with no titles (alas, Dan Marino)?

I know I would rather define myself by my capabilities and my actions than find success in the shadow of someone else.  Although it’s a tough call when all you want …… when ALLLLL you want ….. is to feel that ring on your finger.  Besides (and I really hate admitting this), it worked out pretty well for Tom Brady.  I guess good things come to those who wait.

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