I played football in high school and college. Some of my teammates were incredible athletes and others were…well, not so hot. I suppose I fell somewhere in-between the two groups. I learned much from being involved in athletics, especially from my coaches. They taught us things that not only helped us in football, but in life as well.
My high school coach was Ormand Anderson. He had played football for Georgia Tech and for a brief time with the Washington Redskins. He was also a Marine. He was a very strong, devout, focused individual. Actually, I was afraid of him. He used to say that if we wanted to be good football players, we needed to play with “reckless abandonment.” That didn’t sound very safe to me! Being young at the time, I had very little frame of reference for the term, “reckless abandonment”. I think you have to get a little bit of life under your belt before you can fully understand what that means. Having lived many years since high school, I have learned that reckless abandonment is really the only way to be a great athlete. Actually, it is the only way to really live your life to the fullest.
Now, let me point out that the phrase “reckless abandonment” may sound a little threatening to some. After all, we don’t want anyone to drive recklessly, or live their life in a reckless way. But, that is not what Coach Anderson was talking about. He was saying that we needed to play football with gusto, fervor and passion, without being worried about getting hurt. You cannot play a contact sport trying to protect yourself and constantly worrying about whether or not you are going to be injured. My mother always told me not to get my teeth knocked out. I understood that concept, because I understood those words. Reckless abandonment, on the other hand, is a different kind of concept. It means you throw your total self into what you are doing…even if you do get your teeth knocked out or injured. That is what creates greatness in sports, as well as in life.
The truth of the matter is, reckless abandonment is what creates greatness in any endeavor in life. If you simply “play it safe” at business or in life, without being fully committed to whatever you are doing, you will not succeed in it. You will only succeed with reckless abandonment. Furthermore, you are also less likely to get hurt when you are playing with all your heart. Think of some of the great names in the business world: Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, etc. If you will notice, the one thing they all had in common is that they all did business with reckless abandonment. Sure they had moments of setbacks, but they were always fully “in” to what they are doing with both feet.
A few years ago a family movie was produced called, We Bought a Zoo. It is a very touching story. I encourage you to see it. In the movie, Matt Damon, makes a comment that really is powerful: “Sometimes, all it takes is 20 seconds of bravery to get what you wish for!” In other words, if you are trying to do something great, you must go about it with reckless abandonment. And, sometimes it may only take 20 seconds for you to do something you have never done before, in order to get something you have always wanted.
Taking a risk is really what life is all about. After all, every time we leave our house there is the possibility that innumerable things could happen to us. Life is a dangerous sport! And, playing it from the sidelines, in my opinion, is even more dangerous.
Now, just so you will not think that I have completely lost my mind, I am not talking about going to Las Vegas and risking your life savings on the turn of a roulette wheel. Neither am I talking about doing something unwise or illogical like jumping off of a bridge with a bungee cord tied around your feet! In my opinion, that is not reckless abandonment. It is just dangerous living. It is okay to be cautious, just as long as it does not paralyze you and keep you in a state of fear or inactivity. And yes, I know that some of you who have been bungee jumping are going to react to that example. However, hear me out and please keep reading.
What I am talking about is taking a huge risk and not holding anything back in the process. You may get hurt along the way. You may risk having a broken heart, or you may lose money. You may watch the things you gave to broken into little pieces. But that is how you learn the best lessons in life. If you are hesitant or not fully committed to whatever you are attempting to do, you will never experience the success you really want to achieve. It only comes with reckless abandonment.
You may disagree with this Tip, and that’s okay, because you have been wrong about other things as well! You will get over it in due time. But, may I ask you a question? Are you playing life safe, or are you playing life with reckless abandonment? Let me encourage you to try something new. Take a chance! Go for the gold! Swing for the fence! Just do it! Never give up! Keep on keeping on! (And, all the other clichés you have ever heard.) They all come down to “reckless abandonment”, and the reason is because that is what really works in life.
In the final analysis, all of us are going to live our lives in a way that seems best to each one of us. I just want to encourage you to live with “reckless abandonment” so that one day when you get to the end and look back, you will be glad that you played life with all of your heart.
Tip: Live with reckless abandonment!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm