This past week I was out of town for work and during one of our sessions, a lead speaker asked us to fill out a few questions to then share with the group. One of the questions was “Who/what is someone/something you admire?”
This one was the most difficult for me to answer in a matter of moments. I used to immediately write down “My mom” as the answer to questions like that because she was a single woman who raised two kids, worked a full-time job and worked hard to instill in us the values that would help us deliver something positive to society.
Yet, I hesitated in making that my answer. It seemed too hokey. This was an exercise that deserved deeper thought, so I started rattling things around in my head.
I initially wrote down “professional athletes.” However, only one portion of that is what I admire – the amount of effort and hard work that goes in to being someone who essentially does their job on a huge stage while getting yelled at by thousands of people. I know too many professional athletes. Their work is worth admiring. Their persona is not.
So I scratched it off and took my thinking one step deeper. I wrote down “silver medalists.”
The Olympics doesn’t really do much for me, but I can appreciate the enormity of the hours and energy put in to making your skill so good that only once every four years do you get to show it off to the world.
Think about that for a minute: take something that you consider your best attribute and then work on that one skill for four straight years. No breaks. No vacations. No ice cream. Limited alcohol. (That is where I would cut out.) When that training is up, you have only a minute amount of time to prove that you are the absolute best at that one skill.
What if you’re not at your best that day? What if the wind is blowing differently? If you have a cold? If you didn’t sleep well or if you can only go at 99% speed rather than 100%? We’ve all been there, but on this day you just cannot make it happen.
And you have to live with that for the next four years. Or the rest of your life. After standing a step down on a podium and getting nearly no recognition, you fade off and are forgotten despite working just as hard as the person who won the gold.
That’s why I admire silver medalists. They have the grace and humility to suck it up despite coming thisclose to a gold medal.
Right now, in my kid’s life, I am the silver medalist.
Trust me, that sucks in a house of two that she judges.
The last few days I can barely hold her without her crying and reaching over to mom. The little girl who used to say “Daddy!” when she saw me now only wants me to set her down so she can wobble over to “Ma-ma!”
The worst part is that my wife has tended to the kid non-stop so she never can make a call to the bullpen. So we run the gamut of emotions – my wife for being just worn out playing defense on a one-year-old and me for being disappointed that my kid really doesn’t want to hang out with me for more than 30 seconds.
I was mentally preparing for that sentiment 13 years from now. But a line has been drawn in the sand and I am clearly in second place in a two-person race.
Some might think that is a blessing in disguise, but no one was ever happy with a silver medal. Everyone wants gold.