If you never allow yourself to grow tired of doing good, you can achieve record results.
On September 9, 1990, Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith gained 1 yard in his first NFL rushing attempt before being tackled by San Diego Charger Martin Bayless. On his next attempt, Emmitt gained 1 more yard, finishing the game with 2 yards in this his professional debut. Fast-forward twelve years. On October 26, 2002, Emmitt Smith surpassed Walter Payton’s 16,726 yard rushing record. Smith started slowly but never grew tired of doing good.
Are you or your organization tired of doing the right thing? Are your thoughts leaning more and more towards, “I think I’ll just skip _____________ (fill in the blank) this week”? What’s the blank for you? Are you tired of updating your Activity Based Cost model? Do you feel like skipping the process improvement team meeting? Are you growing tired of exercise or eating the right foods? Or maybe it sounds appealing to skip church, tithing or serving the needy for a while.
People and organizations get tired of doing good. Curtailed continuous improvement is an oxymoron of our times. Our culture does not promote long term, unending commitment. Instead, companies offer early retirement. Over 50% of the couples who say, “until death do us part” get a divorce. Parents hire babysitters instead of keeping the kids. Leaders announce continuous improvement initiatives, thereby inferring to employees, whether they mean to or not, that Total Quality Management, Activity Based Management or Six Sigma will have a beginning and an end.
People regress, resign or retire. Companies decline, disassociate or dissolve. All too often because they simply get tired of doing the right things.
Why did Smith break the record and not someone else? It wasn’t his physical prowess. In fact, coming out of college Emmitt was smaller and slower than many running backs. I believe the primary reason Emmitt Smith achieved what hundreds of others failed to accomplish can be directly attributed to his mental prowess. Emmitt never allowed himself to grow tired of doing good. He ran the ball towards the goal line week after week after week.
What can we do to not grow weary of doing good?I found ten things in Emmitt Smith’s career that we can use to sustain instead of succumb:
Like Roberto Duran who, in the middle of a championship fight with Sugar Ray Leonard relinquished his WBC welterweight title when he ended the fight saying, “No mas” (Spanish for “no more”) and refused to come out of his corner, most of us have moments when we feel like quitting. Whether the foe has been our job, family relationships, or other difficult circumstances, we’ve been smacked in the nose too many times and we want to cry, “No more!”
While it won’t be Martin Bayless, every one of us will be tackled during our personal and professional lives. If we allow it or accept it, people and circumstances have the potential of stopping our progress. Emmitt Smith did not quit when tackled. He got up. So should we. Emmitt never lost the desire of doing good. Neither should we. Don’t give up on your dream, your purpose in life, your calling, your organization, your goals, your principles, your family, your company or your church. Never, never give up doing good.
(1) The Dallas Morning News, Rick Gosselin, Oct. 26, 2002 (2) The Victorious Christian Life, Tony Evans, Thomas Nelson 1996 (3) The Dallas Morning News, Frank Luksa, Oct. 26, 2002 (4) Margin, Dr. Richard Swenson, Navpress, 1995