Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nick Saban & Success

For the non sports fans out there, the University of Alabama football team just won the national championship, handily dispatching the University of Notre Dame by a score of 42-14 last night.  This is the third national championship won by Alabama in the last four years and for head coach Nick Saban, his fourth national championship.  He’s quickly becoming a living legend, already third
all-time among college football coaches for national championships won. Heck, he’s already immortalized in bronze (see below). Much of Saban’s success is attributed to his work ethic, which is being widely heralded--as a simple Google search of “Nick Saban work ethic” will show.  How stringent is Saban’s work ethic? In an interview given just after the win, he said he’d take a day or two to celebrate this win, and then get back to work trying to build a contender for the next season.  Yep, you read the right, despite reaching the pinnacle of his profession, Saban only plans on taking one day off.
'2009 and 2011 BCS Championship coach Nick Saban' photo (c) 2011, Charles Atkeison - license:
Still living, already immortalized!
Saban probably would fit that characterization of a “Type A” personality, someone who tends to be “very competitive and self-critical.”  According to Simply Psychology, “they strive toward goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments.”  Also, “inter-related with this is the presence of a significant life imbalance. This is characterized by a high work involvement.”  I think we might have a match here.

Whether "Type A" or not, my point isn’t to bash on Nick Saban but rather to make broader point.  Folks like Saban are heralded for their success and held up as a model we should all strive for when actually the opposite is true.  There are millions of hard-working people working long hours just to clothe and feed their families yet know nothing of this so-called "sucess," so hard work and success may be associated, but it is not cause and effect.  There’s a story being told in America right now that if we all just worked a little harder and longer we’d do better in life and that our situation is entirely dependent on our effort. That’s just false on so many levels. But besides that, the storyline we are being told is that the “workaholic” patterns of some “Type A” folks should be mirrored by all. Call me crazy, but I don’t envy that lifestyle at all.

I have a very pedestrian life, which might spur some “self-help” guru or rich Republican to say I’ve settled for mediocrity.  Instead of striving for the 7 minute mile pace necessary to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I’m content trying to run a 9-10 minute mile, sadly my GPA is below a 4.0 average, and my wardrobe is lackluster at best. Some might negatively say I’m settling for “second best” when I should be “striving for excellence.”  Here’s the truth, there are only 24 hours in a day and we only have so many hours to commit to something. It’s no wonder The Biggest Loser contestants often regain the weight they had lost on the show, such a lifestyle is unsustainable.  Who has a full-size gym in their back yard, a professional chef, and three hours a day to work-out?

Our society has narrowly defined success as only fame, fortune, or in this case winning.  Success has been too narrowly defined. But, even beyond that, perhaps it’s time to throw out that standard completely.  Perhaps I could be a Boston Marathon qualifier if I dropped out of Seminary.  Maybe I could win a parenting award if I stopped running. I bet I could get academic awards if I stopped spending so much time taking care of my daughter.  Of I could stop blogging and have moretime for all three! I could be any of these things—and I should be at least one of these things—if I truly cared about success. But I don’t want to drop out of seminary, I don’t want to stop running, and I want to spend as much time as possible with my daughter.  I guess you might say I’m settling for mediocrity.  After all, money or status won’t be around when I’m on my deathbed, family and friends will be.  If having a well-rounded, balanced life means settling for second best, then so be it. I'm great at nothing, bad at a few things, but hopefully good in a few things.  I'd like to think that makes me pretty successful. :)

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