Whatever opportunity comes up, go for it and give it your all. You may never have another chance. (Ecclesiastes 9:10).”
I have been a New England Patriots fan since they became a team in 1960. Those were years of relative obscurity as the last franchise admitted into the old American Football League struggled to find success. They eventually began to achieve a limited amount of success. Then along came Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve always been a big fan of the concepts of “Do your job” and “Next man up”). Whatever you may think about this owner, coach, quarterback, or team, you have to admit that their success in the modern era is unprecedented. And they have maintained this success in spite of free agency, salary caps and the normal year to year injuries. And the team mantra has been for everyone, “Do your job!” And if someone goes down (or has to serve an inexplicable 4-game suspension), it’s up the next man to take up the slack and keep things moving forward. But these are professionals who get paid (quite handsomely) to “do their job.” What about those who don’t get paid the big bucks?
I became a UConn Women’s Basketball fan back in the early ’90’s when I was looking for a college team to use as an example to the players on the teams I was coaching at the time. Under Coach Geno Auriemma, UConn went from a 12-15 record in 1985-1986 to having 31 consecutive winning seasons since. They’ve won 11 of the past 22 national championships-including the past 4 in a row. They have 4 out of the top 5 women’s all-time winning streaks with 47, 70, 90 and the current one of 105 and counting–with the last 2 bettering UCLA’s men’s streak of 88. Coming into this year’s season, UConn had lost its top 3 players from last year’s team. Those players went 1,2,3, in the WNBA draft. Time for “next man up.” Three “role players” from last year’s bench suddenly stepped up and, along with the two remaining veterans from last year’s team have turned the team into another UConn powerhouse. Good teams try to never look ahead to more than the next game in order to maintain their focus on the game at hand. UConn takes it a step further by trying to maintain focus on each play of every game. That’s why, in games past, you’ve been able to see a 3-time All-American diving for a loose ball in the third quarter of a game in which UConn had a 40+ point lead. Play at 100% on each and every play. A detail-oriented perfectionist, Auriemma has told his players and everyone that will listen, that there is no magic to being successful. You simply never slack off. When you “strive for perfection, you achieve excellence.”
That’s a lesson these young women will carry with them for the rest of their lives–in their education, in their families, in their relationships, and in their chosen professions. The same rules apply to us no matter what our circumstances, our families, our health, our age or our finances. Strive for perfection in all things and you will achieve excellence. Don’t get discouraged and take a play off. But as for you, be strong and don’t give up, for your work will be rewarded. (II Chronicles 15:7)