WE CAN DO ANYTHING
One of the oldest rivalries in college football is between University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. It just so happens that I grew up in South Bend and my family had season tickets the Notre Dame games. I was a big fan. We went to all the home games and I knew about the USC rivalry. So, when we went to the USC games, I played close attention to everything that happened. And at one of these games, my life changed.
Somewhere, during the first half, the USC running back made a nice first down and time out was called. During that time out, the play-by-play announcer just casually happened to mention that the USC running back was an Academic All-American… who also had the distinction of graduating from his high school at age 15. Then he started USC the fall of that year. I was 8 years old at the time, so I found that very interesting. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The announcer went on to say that this young man had already finished all of his academic graduation requirements and had entered into medical school at USC. So, while he was on the football team he was also going to medical school—at the same time! I was flabbergasted, dumfounded, literally stunned! Here’s why.
My father, grandfather, grandmother and one of my uncles were all physicians. For years I had heard stories about how hard, extremely stressful and all-consuming it was to get into and then graduate from medical school. For me then the idea of playing on a football team while going to medical school at the same time seemed impossible to me. How could anyone do that? I could hardly manage elementary school and I didn’t play any sport.
Well, suffice to say I was fascinated about this. And although I had no name for it, didn’t know what to call it, at that moment my interest in the concept we now call Peak Performance and the Psychology of Achievement began. And I wanted to know more about this stuff.
I left the stadium that day feeling challenged. I wanted to look at my life and see if I could do any more than just muddle along like I’d always done. Could I possibly be really good at something? This is what I asked myself for the first time.
A few weeks later I started my first business. But that’s a story for another time.
THE LESSON HERE IS YES, WE CAN DO GREAT THINGS. We have to understand, as I did thanks to that football game experience long ago, that if other people can do great things—can excel to great heights, achieve mastery over something, do wonderful things in sports or business or any facet of life—if others can do it, we might be able to do it too. At a minimum, we can always to better. This is what I learned at that football game on a cold winter day in South Bend when I was just a kid. And I’ve never forgotten it.