November 1, 2017
Skip Flanagan asked me to write an article that might be beneficial to deaf and hard-of-hearing student-athletes.
I thought long and hard about a topic and came up with "what's the recipe for success?" My answer is there are many different recipes for success.
One of my favorite recipes is "do not take short cuts." Growing up when I went for a five-mile run I would tell myself to go hard for all five miles. Usually late into my the third mile I would feel like slowing down my pace but because I told myself at the beginning to run five miles hard I kept my word and kept on running hard. When running around the field I always went around the corners and never took the shorter way, which is going in front of the corners. There were many days and nights I could have kicked back, watched T.V., eaten junk food or gone out to a party. Instead, I decided to do multiple rounds of suicide sprints on a steep hill. The more I did this I noticed that in the second half of games or at the end of a tough training session I was feeling great while my competition or teammates were grasping for air. This type of mentality was the reason I was successful on the RIT soccer team and why I was inducted into the RIT Hall of Fame. Success happens by not taking short cuts.
After being named Player of the Year for the Empire 8 Conference at the end of my junior year, I still stayed after practice to improve my corner kicks, penalty kicks, touches on the ball, and also did extra running and lifting. I didn't think that because I got the POY award that I didn't need to do this anymore. Actually, it was the complete opposite because upon receiving the award I wanted to be named POY in my senior year and knew what I had to do to accomplish it.
I was very fortunate to be a member of an exceptional Club Team in my teens. We traveled all over the United States to tournaments playing against the best teams in the country. At a tournament in California, we played a terrible first game. After the match our coach said, "Boys, when you get back to your rooms tonight I want each and every one of you to look in the mirror, eyeball to eyeball, and ask yourself, did I properly prepare myself to perform, both mentally and physically, to the best of my ability? Only you can answer that question." To this day I still look in the mirror, eyeball to eyeball, and ask myself that very same question, whether it be regarding my career, relationships or any other aspect of my life. Success happens by not taking short cuts.
If you want to be very good and excel at what you do, you cannot take short cuts. You need to consistently do more than anyone else. If someone runs four miles, you run five miles. If someone juggles 500 times, you juggle 600 times. Nothing is easy if you want to excel. Always try your best and take a hard look in the mirror, and if you can tell yourself that you gave it your all and tried your absolute best on every given day in practice and games you will have no regrets regardless of what you achieved or did not achieve. I'd rather have tried my absolute best and been a mediocre player than be the best player and not have tried my best.
As you mold yourself into the best player (person) you can be, remember there are no short cuts. You have to be patient, work hard and always try your absolute best! Do what will help you in your present and your future. Will watching T.V., eating junk food and going out to parties help your future? Or will preparing yourself, both mentally and physically, for your practices, matches and focusing on your education help your future?
The decision is yours ~ you are the person that has to look into your mirror forever after.
Michael E. Lawson, MS, MSSE, 2009