Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Winning Formula

It's playoff time in the NFL. 12 Teams have earned the right to a post-season ticket by slogging through a grueling 16-game season. Along the way, they've experienced triumphs, setbacks, having to overcome injuries and working through team dynamics with multiple personalities and talents needing to be molded and shaped for optimal performance at a very high level of play.

One of those teams is the Kansas City Chiefs. I've never been a fan particularly of the Chiefs, but their performance this year has been impressive and I admire the leadership of their head coach Andy Reid - it has been nothing short of remarkable. Coach Reid has endured many a struggle, on and off the field, leading up to this point (including losing a son to a tragic and untimely death a few years back, and overcoming a five game losing streak at the start of this season). Yet he has found the ability to lead his team on an impressive 10-game win streak that has propelled the Chiefs to a wild-card playoff berth and to becoming a credible contender for the Super Bowl (as of this writing, they've won their 11th with a victory on the road against Houston in a wild card game).

A couple of years ago, as he was making a transition from the Philadelphia Eagles to his current post (and on the heels of his son's tragedy), I heard Coach Reid share four principles that have helped him to endure and succeed through the challenges of life. He has said that he passes these on to every player he has coached as a "recipe" that contributes to motivating his players to focus, compete and give maximum effort and output in what they do best on the field of play ... and as a guideline for how they can approach life in general. Executing on these day-by-day, he says, can be life-altering. I would agree.

Here are those four principles, with my thoughts on each:
1. Eliminate distractions
Focus, focus, focus ... nothing of significance can be accomplished without an intense effort to prioritize and "laser-in" on the moment's primary objective. To do that, we have to have the discipline to eliminate distractions in the process. Coach Reid says that he impresses on his players in their preparation work for game day to work hard to eliminate anything that keeps them from focusing on performing at their peak best. Doing "the job" means giving our all to the task at hand. Competition at a high level demands it, and a life of excellence calls for it as well.
2. Create Energy
In order to perform at our peak best, in whatever we're doing, we have to have the necessary energy to do so. We need to find ways to create maximum energy and to maintain it. What that calls for is getting serious about how we maintain our "physical plant" ... mind and body. Regular exercise, attention to our nutritional diets, getting the necessary rest and regeneration, and expanding our minds through informative study, has to become a part of our day-to-day routines.
3. Fear Nothing
Persevering and winning in the heat of battle requires courage: overcoming in the face of fear ... staring it down and having the confidence to move ahead in spite of emotional feelings to the contrary. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said in the face of a daunting attack, "there is nothing to fear but fear itself." That's the staunch stance we must take as we approach the day, the task, the seemingly insurmountable obstacle in our way. It's a mind thing that translates into a confident "can do" attitude. So much the better for those who can confidently draw on an infinite resource beyond themselves. 
4. Attack Everything
Give it our all with complete abandon. Having prepared well with focus and energy applied, throw caution to the wind and take the plunge forward. Coach Reid will tell you that he counsels his players to "take the offensive," whether it's on the practice field, in the heat of an intense game day battle, facing a "tall order" in the completion of a job assignment, facing a long rehab from a server injury, or facing a seemingly uphill battle with a negative medical diagnosis. Attack it ... with as much strength and vigor as we can muster, physically and mentally ... steadfastly persevering as we do. Big things have been accomplished with that kind of mental engagement and physical execution.

Not a bad set of principles to live by, giving us every opportunity for success in life's endeavors. Good advice from a pretty good coach. Oh, by the way ... does God's Word have anything to say in support of the above principles? I think so. Take a gander at the below ... not bad advice, either.
"Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever ..."
- Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)
"I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself."
- 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG)
"Fear not (there is nothing to fear), for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice."
- Isaiah 41:10 (AMP)
"God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ ..."
- 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NLT)
"Let every detail in your lives - words, actions, whatever - be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."
-Colossians 3:17 (MSG)