February 26 – Giving everything for success

“There is only one way to succeed at anything and that is to give everything.” (Vince Lombardi)

Vince Lombardi is one of the most iconic names in coaching history. Though is life was cut tragically short, he is oft quoted and revered for his ability to motivate his players to excellence. When I read a quote from Coach Lombardi, my immediate filter tells me to read it like it was given in a locker room before a big game. I think of his quotes first as about sports. Today I am taking a different view.

There are probably a hundred clichés about giving all you’ve got. Most are sports themed and relate to “leaving it all on the field”. More recently there is the poker term of “going all-in”, that inspires the notion of holding nothing back. In my life I have found that giving everything does not guarantee success, but holding back will almost certainly ensure failure.

Back in the year 2000 I decided it was time to lose some weight. Then, like now, my weight was higher than it should be by a good margin. I can’t remember exactly what prompted me to start that particular time. It certainly wasn’t my first attempt. I had tried off and on all through the 1990s to lose weight. I’d go down for a while, then rise back up. I always lacked the discipline to stick to it for long.

In the year 2000, I decided to give Weight Watchers another try. I started on May 1 writing down everything I ate or drank. I kept little slips of paper in my pocket all day, recording every bite of food, every sip of beverages. I was truly all-in.

Over the course of the next 15 months, I lost almost 25% of my body weight. I felt better than I had since I was in High School, and I actually looked really good as well. In August of 2001, my family went on vacation to Panama City Beach. For the first time in decades I remember going to the beach and the pool without a shirt on. I certainly wasn’t one of the carved, walking statues that some of the men were, but I was confident and felt good about myself.

I succeeded in losing weight because it became a passion in and of itself. I was nearly obsessed with counting everything, eating exactly what I should. I walked my neighborhood at night, and around my building at work during the day. Sadly, that vacation was the pinnacle of my weight loss success. In the fall and winter of 2001 I went back to my former eating habits. I slowly, but surely put all the weight back on (and then some). But, this post isn’t about my weight gain, it is about the weight loss I had over that 15 month span.

I can sit here and think of many other examples in my life that show both sides of the coin of this quote. I can think of times when I tried something half-heartedly and failed; I can also think of times when I have been completely dedicated to something and succeeded.

Where in my life today am I mailing it in? Where am I giving only a partial effort? Are these parts of my life that are important? And if they are, what is holding me back from laying all on the line and giving everything I have?

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