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The Power of Playing Hard

I have always enjoyed sports, both playing them myself and watching the best. The absolute concentration and preparation required. The raw risk of failure and humiliation. The potential truth that your absolute best may not measure up. I have experienced more defeats than victories in my life. I vividly remember playing in the NCAA Division III national golf tournament as a freshman at Trinity University. I almost couldn’t tee the ball up on the first tee box. My heart was pounding in my chest. Was I thinking about winning? No. I was praying I wouldn’t miss the ball. I’m serious! I was so worried about not having what it takes. I suppose I have company with these feelings. On to my point…

Nessun Dorma, the iconic Italian aria that is the measure of every important soprano. You know, the one Pavarotti made famous. How does this relate to the power of playing hard? Well, the essence of the aria is “I will win!” I will win the heart of my beloved in the original context. Failure is not an option. Pavarotti created a worldwide sensation when he performed this aria at the opening ceremony of the 1990 World Cup. The crowd as well as the players experienced a timeless moment of complete connection. They were fully alive!

I want you to consider this…is the point which team wins? Is the point the beloved’s decision? Well, the lyrics clearly imply “Failure is not an option”. The reality is failure is an unavoidable consequence if it is defined by an outcome. A score for example. The concept of “I will win” resonates because we are all really connecting with the ultimate goal…” I am going to do my absolute best.” “I am going to play hard.” THAT is why and how we really win. Success is defined by how hard we play and how completely we commit.

I learned during my Discovery experience as an explorer back in 1997 that I needed to love myself regardless of what other people thought of me. I needed to get off the bench and quit worrying so much about success or failure but rather to simply “PLAY HARD!!!”. Prior to Discovery, I had learned that love was conditional. I had falsely experienced that love was earned and not freely given. This shift in perspective has transformed my life.

I want my life to matter and to make a difference. How? I just have to do my best. I just have to play hard. That inspires. I can do that every day. Watch me while I watch you do the same and let’s make it happen. I’m in! I will remain forever grateful to the volunteers at Discovery that loved me unconditionally without expectation or judgment.

I ask you to consider what winning really means in your own life. Consider how the power of playing hard in everything you do can shift the energy and make you an impact player from the heart in all areas. It is within your grasp and you have what it takes. You are more than “enough”. You are a true winner.

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