Below is one of my blogs from several years ago as I and my team was preparing for the Emerald Cup. I thought it appropriate that, one day before the 2014 Emerald Cup Championships begins, I reshare it. I hope you enjoy it, and more importantly, take it to heart. Peace…
“Master,” the student asked, “What must I do to become a great athlete?”
The Master looked into the student’s eyes. “Think,” the Master replied, his hands clasped behind his back.
The student walked away nodding slightly, determined to please his master. Over the next several days the student thought long and hard about being a great athlete. He thought about the fame and fortune. He thought about the recognition and adulation. He thought about the praise and glory. After thinking long and hard on these things, the student returned to his master.
“Master,” the student said, “I have thought about being a great athlete and I want to be the greatest of the great. I want the fame and fortune. I want the recognition and adulation. I want the praise and glory. I am ready to become a great athlete. What must I do?”
The student walked away with a slightly puzzled look. He thought he had done as his master asked but obviously the master was not pleased. Then it hit him. He was thinking the wrong thoughts. So he changed his thought process. He started thinking on being not just a great athlete but the best athlete. He thought about winning all the time, every time. He thought about never losing. He thought about the cheers he would receive every time he won. He thought about the people who would acknowledge his many victories. He relished in the accolades of his adoring fans. He thought on these things, and several days later he returned to his master.
“Master,” the student declared, “I have thought about being a great athlete once again. To be great, one must never lose. To be great, one must become the best. To be great, one must win, all the time, every time. Everyone flocks to and cheers for the great athletes who win. I am ready to become the greatest athlete. What must I do?”
The Master looked intently into the student’s eyes yet again. “THINK!!” the Master emphatically exclaimed, this time taking both his index fingers and tapping the student on each side of his head.
The student walked away frustrated. What was the answer to greatness? What was his master looking for? Suddenly it came to him. Great athletes must tell the world how great they are. How else would others hear of great athletes? He thought on this and realized that he’d never heard of someone who WASN’T great. The student nodded approvingly. He now knew the answer his master was seeking. He would spread the word any and every way he could. He would tell the world he was great. He thought on all the ways he would let the world know he was great, and when he was satisfied with how he would tell the world, he returned to his master.
“Master,” the student confidently declared, “I have thought long and hard about being great. I must tell the world about my greatness. I must travel far and wide via all modes of transportation and let all people, including those I do not personally know, know that I am great.
The Master looked at his student and shook his head slowly and sadly.
“My son,” he implored, “True Greatness is special. Very few people are truly great. Truly Great people do not tell the world they are great. That is vanity and conceit. Nor is greatness about fame, fortune, glory, and adulation. That is greed and attention-seeking. Greatness is not about thinking you are THE best. That is arrogance. All of those are external validations that one seeks to define one’s skills and abilities. That type of greatness is given to you by others. They may call you great, but that does not MAKE you great.
True greatness comes from within – from knowing that you have done your absolute best and given your absolute all. True greatness does not need nor seek validation. True greatness is intrinsic. It is being satisfied with whatever outcome comes your way. The truly great person has only one person to please – him or herself. True greatness is your character. What makes you? What defines you? True greatness is a state of mind. You overcome your fears and anxieties by committing to something far greater than winning. You may not have the most talent, nor possess the most skill, but you strive to exceed your previous best. That is true greatness.
True greatness recognizes that someone is ALWAYS better – you just have not met him or her yet. A truly great person accepts victory humbly and defeat gracefully. True greatness is humility personified. True greatness is helpful. True greatness is kind. If you truly desire greatness, treat people as you would want to be treated, expecting nothing in return. People who are truly great seek to make those around them great as well.”
“But Master”, the student insisted, “Is it not true that the greatest athletes are also the best athletes?”
“Again,” the Master reiterated, “That is external validation of one’s achievements. You can be great and never win. Yet you can also win and never be great. Success does not always equal victory. And victory does not always equal success. True Greatness and True Success is internal achievement. You must define your own success and greatness through your achievements. Many times that does not equal victory.”
The 32nd Anniversary of the Emerald Cup is this weekend. EVERYONE will be successful if you have worked hard, dedicated yourself, committed to the task at hand, and followed through. If you have found out what is necessary, and done the necessary well, then you will have achieved success and true greatness. If you have kept your head down, your mouth shut, and simply handled your business, then you will have achieved success and true greatness. You may take dead last, but you’ve achieved success. For many of you, 1st place is all that matters. Many competitors are outcome-oriented. They want to win. I can appreciate that. I too wanted to win. I did not put all of this time, effort, and energy into taking last place, or even 2nd place for that matter. Who would? But I accepted that I very possibly would not place where I wanted. I knew that the competition would be stiff. My job was always to prepare this physique to its best potential and let the judges place me accordingly. I’d like to believe that throughout my competitive career I did that. But for the outcome-oriented individuals, what will happen if you do not get first place? Will life end? Will the world cease to exist? No. Do not be disillusioned if you thought you were going to win and did not. Contests are like busses…there’s always another one coming down the road in a bit. Some of us…no…MANY of us will be disappointed at the end of the show. A few will be elated. I would hope that regardless of where everyone places, they are all humble, gracious, courteous, and respectful. I would hope that they will offer a helping hand to someone backstage who appears ‘lost’ or confused. That, to me, is greatness.
I have several competitors who looks great. The goal is for all of them to do better than when they last stepped onstage. I told them, “You have a different set of competitors, a different set of judges, and a different physique. You’ve done the work. Don’t be concerned about the outcome. The outcome will take care of itself.”
The final year I competed, 2012, I got 3rd. It hurt. But it did not kill me. I have only won my class at the E-Cup one time. Yet I went back every year. Why? The camaraderie, the fun, the relationships, the pictures…many, MANY other things other than winning. At this year’s E-Cup, I look forward to being backstage with my old friends, and meeting new ones. I look forward to meeting, seeing, and talking with you all at my booth (BuffedWear Booth #46). I look forward to taking pictures with each and every one of you. I love the picture-taking…in fact, that’s become my favorite part of shows now – taking pics with everyone. The memories from the pictures are far more important to me now than a trophy. Has my mindset about winning changed? Nope. I’m still ultra-competitive. But I’m also old…and small…and broke down. I live vicariously through my TeamBuffedBods team members. My competitive days are behind me for the most part.
As I’ve said in two previous blogs, experience the experience. Take it all in. Your work is done. It’s time to let your greatness shine through. Enjoy your experience…