Watching exceptional and sometimes surprising football this past weekend I realized that it is not old fashioned to give it all you’ve got. It really shouldn’t matter what we are doing: work, fun, hobbies, sports, exercise, school, family, or relationships – giving it all means that you appreciate what you have, relish the skills you have required, respect those who are part of the activity, and have pride in your personal and collective performance. The rewards for this effort need not always be tangible, sometimes they are what might be referred to as “soft rewards”. These include knowing you gave more than you received, contributed to the success of others, had some level of positive impact on those who were on the receiving end of your work, and realizing you participated in something that served as a shining example for others.
I have always been a firm believer that if you give your all, every time, no matter what the task then those tangible rewards will also come your way at some point in time. One of my favorite quotes (author unknown) says it all:
“There are only three choices in life: Give Up, Give In, or Give It All You’ve Got.”
The question is: which path will we take? As I watched these players and teams that have earned the right to fight for position in the playoffs, I was moved by so many who chose the third path: “Give it all you’ve got”. Games were won and lost in the final seconds of play, points were traded back and forth as one teams successful drive motivated the opposing team to stand tall and push even harder to match that effort. Most games, including the one with my fully embraced and supported team from Buffalo, New York were addressed in the end just like the famous coach, Vince Lombardi said decades ago:
“I never really lost a football game; on occasion I simply ran out of time.”
When there is an unrelenting effort towards excellence, when each member of a team supports each other, when effort is measured in giant steps and not simply going through the motions, then a game can never be lost – you may on occasion simply run out of time.
I was inspired by the effort, by the all-out pursuit of excellence, by individuals who gave everything they had and did so in support of others. Even though the results in some cases were not what was hoped for, it is this commitment, pride, and “never give up” attitude that won in the end.
Some may say: “If I was paid that kind of money then I would give it my all”, but from my experience people either give it all regardless of compensation or they don’t. I will always believe that people want to win through extraordinary effort. They want to use their skills and ability to reach for the stars and feel good about the effort they gave. Maybe I am naïve, but I hope not. When we lose sight of being the best we can be, when we accept mediocrity simply because those tangible rewards don’t come quickly enough, then how do we look ourselves in a mirror and feel any level of satisfaction?
This Give Up, Give In, or Give It All You’ve Got choice applies just as well to what we do in the kitchen as it does those who earn millions playing on a football field, basketball court, baseball diamond, ice rink or performance stage. The ones who are successful in any endeavor perform at the highest level, every day, with every task because that is what they expect of themselves.
Those who refuse to give up or give in look at disappointment as a wakeup call and a roadmap pointing to the road of improvement. When we are unable to reach the goals, we have today, it’s time to assess, commit, and work even harder to improve. Steve Young, the retired Superbowl winning quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers had a tough act to follow. His predecessor was Joe Montana, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, a sports icon who was deeply loved by the people of San Francisco. Young’s motivation was to fill those shoes and he did that very well over time. He said:
“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”
We can all learn something important from paying attention to organized sports, especially when the team and those who mold the players into a cohesive unit are committed to giving it all they’ve got. The best restaurants, the most impressive schools, and the most effective kitchen teams will do exactly what the teams who played this past weekend will do moving forward. During the weeks and months ahead, they will focus on playing their individual roles to the best of their ability and giving it all they’ve got each and every day.
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