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Stop Playing Safe

Updated on September 1, 2015

Stepping stones

A midst a group of some fine work volunteers and inquiring how they were doing, led me into this conversation which I’ll now share with you. We gently laughed at the idea of their getting a promotion for which it was nothing more than just an accolade. I mentioned that they should focus on and be careful to not lose this volunteering gig, as it looks bad on your life resume.

The two other volunteers chuckled and began to talk that such expended efforts usually show up as “5th-Place trophies” and were only given out so they’d show up the following week to do service work for free, that no one perhaps in their right mind would think of doing. So, it struck this peculiar cord of thought within me.

Gently winding upward slope

I don’t know of anyone, or perhaps you do know, of anyone who had gotten a trophy because they tried. Yeah, now I know they have the Up Sports programs in Christian Schools which are designed around the idea that everyone’s a winner kind of thing. And everyone literally, gets a trophy. But, reality is that we live in a comparative and competitive world for which that won’t work well enough when reality hits.

Since we all strive to be in some kind of position to receive a Title for this, or for that. It makes it difficult to lead from these positions without having first earned it. For example, let’s say you aspire to a certain position or title of someone you emulate, and you think to yourself, “Hmm, I’d like to be that person and have it goin’ on like them”. But, reality says that you can’t unless you’ve done the work that emulated person has done, first. Why is it we all want things we’re not willing to work for?

Lives void of daily discipline get nowhere. The only way to get anywhere in life is through hard-work and the type of discipline that’s gonna tough it out no matter what kind of day, or weather, or circumstance. We learn more about success through failure, than we ever will about from success itself. Why? Because we only learn through resolve. You get your back against the wall and you figure out what you got to do to move ahead. You don’t just wait for a trophy to come along to make you feel better about yourself.

Reflect and respond

make you feel better about yourself.

Accolades are nice for encouragement to help us manage through, but never enough to propel us forward. I don’t think, and hope I’m right, they don’t teach anywhere that life is about riding some prestige position as if you’re a Master of Ceremony for some localized off-the-wall Holiday Parade. Because, that’s just not gonna happen for anyone.

Our Microwave-ready society anticipates success as if that’s the ultimate goal. Life is not about the destination, as much as it’s about the path. With this type of belief, you’ll find that after failing on the 1st try, to give up saying it’s too hard and look for the trophy table nearest you. Or, you can just call yourself a loser as if that’s gonna really help. But, it won’t. You’ll quickly succumb to a state of entitlement demanding that someone take care of you and kiss your wounds and rub your belly all the same.

Muttering between moans

Why do we as a society, teach such things? These default relationships exist because in the same manner we’ve learned, so also should we teach. I’m not so sure that’s easily the best idea, and maybe I’m alone in this thought. But, if nothing is learned through failure, nothing is learned at all. Unfortunately, we’ve bred a people intent to show up for a race, and as soon as the gun sounds the start, they race to the table to their immediate right to pick up their trophies, bumper stickers, and t-shirts for attending. Then complain about how tough was all the tough training they had to endure to get these measly items.

Whatever we want, or decide to be. Whether a volunteer position, or an expert in the field of your choice. There is a place for “5th-Place trophies”, and they are that it’s good to be given out as an accolade for failing effort, than to receive a silent gesture that doesn’t recognize effort at all. That, will make you feel as a failure.

Take time to be intentional about your dream in life. Because it matters. Dreams are forged daily here at our ministry, where men without opportunity are given hope that can help themselves become leaders in their families, marketplace, and neighborhood. Being intentional, means that you’re fully conscious of yourself and others. That you’re intentional about your work, and about your service to others. Take time to be better every single day to be the best you can be in your field, or work of service. It’s not for the reward, or trophy, but for the satisfaction that you’re really training ahead for the sake of another.


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