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This Post is Not About The New England Patriots

Integrity

This Post Is Not About The New England Patriots

So, I really didn’t want to write anything related to the recent accusations against The New England Patriots. NFL investigators found 11 of 12 footballs were under-inflated in a 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in he AFC Championship game. The story seemed to have run it’s course with a million sophomoric jokes and former quarterbacks admitting to doing the same thing.

The fact that the New England Patriots are headed to the final game for the sixth time in thirteen years (winning in 2002, 2004, & 2005) should be the story. Unfortunately for them, it isn’t.

But, this story, one of seeking advantages by breaking the rules, won’t go away. The accusations threaten to further tarnish the reputation of the coach, quarterback and the franchise. It’s unfortunate, but self-inflicted.

This Post is Not About Football

It occurred to me that the story is probably lasting longer than it should because it’s not really a story about football. It’s about integrity. It’s about business. It’s about life.

How you go about becoming a success in comedy has many parallels to this story. This may be a bit of a stretch but stick with me.

New England is kind of like that comic who has talent, lives in a great city, but isn’t patient enough to succeed on their own. They have the skills, execution and delivery to win more often than not. Yet, there is a lingering doubt that they aren’t good enough. So they search for other advantages.

They are like the comedian who has thirty incredibly brilliant, original minutes. They are performing at a high level. But instead of building off of that hard work, they steal another fifteen minutes when no one is looking so they can cash a bigger check.

The Patriots organization is like a manager who looks the other way while their talent is being abusive, self-destructive, or a disrespectful jerk. Hoping that they hit it big before they implode.

The NFL is like the comedy club who knows the comedians on its stage are stealing, cheating, and representing the club poorly – but they are bringing in the crowds and the cash. So they prefer to stay out of it.

This Post Is Not About Athletes 

I’ve got nothing against the Patriots or Tom Brady. This really could be about any team, or athlete. All of them are looking for advantages. Surely some of them are using far worse tactics than (allegedly) letting the air out of the ball. But the pattern developing should be a wake up call for the ownership.

Sure, those who call themselves “fans” will forgive major violations for a victory. They are willing to look the other way for a championship. But, how hollow is that feeling of success when you haven’t really earned it on the “up and up?”

This acceptance of an unfairly won victory is the part of the story that bothers me. But it doesn’t keep me awake at night.

Here’s why.

I stopped expecting others to act with integrity a long time ago. It’s very freeing. I wish for it. I hope for it. I love it when I see someone get acknowledged for doing things the right way. But, I don’t let the lack of someone else’s discipline affect my day – certainly, not athletes.

The ongoing use of cheap tactics, rule bending techniques, and even performance enhancing drugs (PED) has erased my respect for many top competitors. In fact, doubt creeps in quickly when you see someone outperforming others by such a margin. Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds, all the way down to lesser-known hurdlers in the 2012 Olympics, who were tested for using meth, are disappointments to themselves and their organizations. But to me, they are just another sad story that unfortunately will continue to tarnish the true competitive spirit of sports.

Additionally, I don’t seek approval and validation by cheering for people I’ve never met. A game is a fun distraction when it’s time to relax. But, it’s not going to define my identity.

This Post Is About Not Compromising 

Instead of becoming disappointed or furious about someone else’s choices, choose to funnel that energy and demand for excellence inwards. Sure, some days we will come up short, but not for lack of effort. Choose not the shortcuts in an effort to get better at all costs. Instead, opt for what you can do to simply become better.

So my challenge to all athletes, performers, teachers, leaders of all kinds – and myself, is as follows:

Pursue excellence through execution and action. Not by deception (or deflation).

Understand that the fruits of success come from great patience, practice and development.

Realize that a victory won with deceptive practices is far less great than a loss earned with effort and integrity.

Choose not to be distracted solely by the trophy, the money or the accolades. Instead, become focused on creating through diligence, passion and dedication. Success will follow.

Don’t be greedy with your talent. Share it with others so that they, too, can become greater.

Use other’s success as a template, but not as a script. Inject your personality and beliefs into everything you do.

When offered a chance to advance using questionable tactics, challenge the person offering to become greater in their expectations of you.

And above all, put in the work – even when no one is looking.

Does that get you pumped up? I hope so. You can do great things the right way. You can become more than you are by doing more than you have. And when you reach your goal, you’ll be glad you didn’t take any shortcuts.

Life’s a journey, enjoy the comedy.

Rik Roberts | SchoolOfLaughs.com

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