Monday, March 24, 2014

The Men That Don't Fit In

If they just went straight they might go far
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.

- "The Men Who Don't Fit In" by Robert Service 

After the Seattle Seahawks routed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, Pete Carroll was asked about his expectations for the next season. With the celebration still swirling around him, he gave an answer that was dissected across sports radio the next day, mostly in not-so-favorable terms, 
“The first meeting that we’ll have will be tomorrow. That starts tomorrow. Our guys would be surprised if we didn’t. We really have an eye on what’s coming, and that we don’t dwell on what just happened. We’ll take this in stride, and we’ll have a big celebration on Wednesday in town and enjoy the heck out of it. Everybody will enjoy the heck out of it. We won’t miss the fun part of it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set our sights on how this is going to go...We’ll be battling and competing...We’ll get going (with the) next challenge."
The critics were outraged. Coach Carroll was taking the Super Bowl in stride? What "next challenge" is there? The crowing achievement of his career...and he's going back to work tomorrow!?

The truth is, nobody prepares you for the after. For so long, high performance individuals and teams focus on a singular goal: perfection in their craft. You try so hard to accomplish it and once you have it, it feels like you have nothing. There's a phantom itch left by the late night meetings, practice sessions, dress rehearsals, and camaraderie built up over weeks, months, or even years of preparation. The next morning you wake up with the Lombardi Trophy and the realization the thing you really craved was the feeling of "family" you had grown to know and love, and in the coming days that would be spread across a city or even across the country, never to have that moment again.

It's a stark realization I'm coming to grips with after three wonderful productions of "Fiddler On The Roof." A Super Bowl victory it is not, but the time I spent in rehearsal and waiting backstage for the roar of the audience is just as memorable to me. I forged relationships, had lots of fun, and saw the best actors and actresses our church and city had to offer turn in as dominant a performance as the Legion of Boom. And today, the day after, I woke up with that familiar feeling rising up inside of me. I gravitated to that interview by Coach Carroll as a sign of what to do next. His guiding principle of "Always Compete" has served me well and it was a joy to watch something you've applied in your life succeed on such a big stage like the Super Bowl. As I read the interview again, I smiled and it clicked.

As kids, we always look for the next thing to climb. Whatever is bigger or higher or stronger, we resolve out of will, pride, or pure childish naivete to conquer. The fascination with climbing has taken us to the moon and back as humans; and it should have dawned on me earlier: it's about the climb. The goal is a waypoint, the relationships and rehearsals an anchor. What Fiddler has prepared me to do is launch myself into the next challenge and even further out of my comfort zone, knowing I have the love and support of a congregation behind me, confidence in myself inside of me, and a Life WithOut Limits in front of me. The memories I made will be just that, but everything else should not be discarded. They are the tools I'll have to use to get back to that feeling, this time with another team. The Seahawks will return next year and many things will be different. But at the heart of the team concept set forth by Coach Carroll will be the same goal: perfection at your craft. And just like my beloved cast of Fiddler, the players and coaches will approach their lives knowing what it is like to be at the top, but realizing what's truly important in the journey.

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