Written By Dalton Ruer
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true then this amazing photo is deserving of several quality posts. I could write one massive article describing everything I see in the photo but your head might burst.
So instead I hope to use the English language to convey to you my thoughts on just one aspect of the photo per week. That way neither of our heads will burst.
Let’s start with some of the basics you’ll need to follow along. This photo is of Doug Spears Field at Lander University in Greenewood, South Carolina. Spears, who began the Lander softball program in 1982, retired from the university on Dec. 31, 2005, posting an overall record of 803-474 for a .628 winning percentage. He entered the 2005 season at No. 7 on the NCAA Division II’s winningest active coaches list.
What do you think the odds are that during that amazing tenure at the Lander University Coach Spears had to make sacrifices while also raising his family? I think I could get rich betting if I had those odds.
Lander doesn’t have a football team that is on ESPN every week so no “big tv $” for them. What do you think the odds are that raising the money to construct a gorgeous facility like that took some sacrifice on a lot of peoples parts? Do you think that the people donating the money would have been as generous if they didn’t see the sacrifice of a great coach who gave the majority of his adult life to the program?
While the photo is beautiful, and we will focus on those things in articles to come, it is the absence of some things like dandelions in the outfield that lend to the beauty of what is there. You’ll see an absence of grass overtaking the warning track or infield dirt. The photo is void of any trash on or surrounding the field. Those small things also take the sacrifice of many people just to have the field and stadium looking the way it does so that should a random photo be snapped it will look amazing.
I Chronicles 21 tells a story of a time when King David “fell.” Seriously bad judgment and as always there were consequences. The story concludes with King David wanting to buy a particular piece of land to build an altar to God and to make a sacrifice. The land owner wanted to willingly give the land and everything needed to the King. But King David stated “I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.”
We all find ourselves in that situation almost daily. Not building an alter to God, but the situation where we can try and take the easy way out of something or we can do the hard work ourselves. Where we could get away with running 3 laps instead of the 5 others run. Where we can skip the personal batting time coach asks us to take. You see the point of the story was that EXCELLENCE Requires Sacrifice. King David was unwilling to pay anything less than his best.
So let’s have a little pop quiz on how you are doing in this regard. Ready?
Your hitting is struggling a bit lately. Do you blame the bat and expect mom/dad to rush right out and buy another $300 bat to fix your problem or do you get serious about focusing on better quality swings in practice and doing tee work on your own at home?
Your team starts a big tournament at 8:00 AM and you need to be at the field by 6:30. Do you stay out late with your friends and then drag during the first game because it’s “only a pool game” or do you ensure that you are 100% fresh for the first game of the day to help set the tone for the tournament?
Your team has a field work day at the same time your friends invited you to the beach? Do you go to the beach because you don’t really care what the practice field looks like or do you tell your friends that your team’s image is shaped on the practice field and that this year the team is going to look better than ever?
There is an instructional clinic coming up and you know you would learn a lot. But the cost of the clinic is the same amount as that gorgeous dress you’ve been looking at for prom? Do you wear last years dress again to the prom this year and attend the clinic or do you make everyone envious when you show up wearing this amazing new dress?
There are a million different ways that I could phrase the same question but it really comes down to “what is that you are willing to sacrifice for your excellence?” Your personal excellence isn’t going to come through money that others spend for you or things that others do for you as favors.
Look again at the photo. I hope that you agree with me that this photo represents the level of EXCELLENCE that is only attained through sacrifice. But more importantly I want you to examine the “photo” of your career. Are you making the sacrifices needed to truly reach EXCELLENCE in your own life?
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