Greatness May Have an Unexpected Price tag

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”


Perhaps no one has quite lived the preceding quote more than the person who said it – NFL legend Jerry Rice.


For those who know the name, but don’t quite know the legend, Rice’s accolades are ridiculous…..NFL Hall of Fame inductee, 3 time Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, 13 time Pro Bowl selection, 12 time All-Pro selection, all time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers, and the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns scored, and chosen in 2010 as the greatest player in NFL history.


He’s kind of a big deal.


But I got to know a little bit more about the “man” behind the accomplishments around this time last year, when I was watching an ESPN profile about him.


In this story, we also got a glimpse of the downside of Jerry’s illustriousness. Its price tag, if you will. You see, Jerry was so focused, so intense, so disciplined, that his time was almost exclusively obligated to his craft. And his nutritional regimen so specific that he could not even share meals with his own family. His marriage was a casualty of this lifestyle.


His perseverance and passion for his sport made him millions, but it also cost him in ways you can’t quantify.


Another example, James Andrews, MD, is one of the most renowned orthopedic surgeons in American medicine. His is a name known widely in clinical and athletic circles alike. Like the legendary players Andrews has “fixed” – from Michael Jordan and Troy Aikman to Jack Nicklaus and Roger Clemens – the orthopedic surgeon, too, posts legendary numbers.


ESPN reports this alpha-Doc performs 30 surgeries in a given week, and keeps a pace that many half his age couldn’t dream of matching. In all, he’s performed more than 40,000 surgeries in the past four decades. AND he manages to introduce leading-edge technologies to the field.


Andrews’ “price tag,” luckily, hasn’t been his wife – a proclaimed, “saint.” But it’s hard to imagine him having time for her or his other love – sailing. When he’s not in surgery, he’s on the cell phone. It seems that every athletic trainer, physical therapist and strength and conditioning coaching in the nation has his number. He takes calls 24-7, and has seen patients in his living room at 11 p.m.


His wife has tried to get him to slow down. But, as the article said, and as I surmise, some people are just not born with a lower gear. On the flipside, some don’t possess the ability to function in this high-octane mode 24-7 – and some are simply unwilling to live life that way.


Here are two examples of individuals at the pinnacle of success in their chosen field. Admired and probably envied by many. From outside appearances, they have it all. Much like so many of the people that you and I may be tempted to measure ourselves against in our daily lives.


There are trade-offs. We may sit back and envy the person who holds the position that looks shiny and perfect, but there is a good chance that they might just covet the position you are in – having it “all” – job, family, friends and not just the glory that comes with fame and bling.


It’s interesting to think in such terms, because to “mere mortals,” Jerry Rice and Dr. Andrews “have it all.” But dig a little bit deeper, and they can’t possibly “have it all.” In fact, they’ve lost time – be it to spend with their children or other loved ones or to have the freedom and flexibility do the activities they love outside of the four walls of an operating suite or four sides of a field.


Don’t be fooled into one version of “The American Dream.” If you’re making reckless sacrifices, and the casualties on your route to success are the very people or things that matter most to you, you may want to rethink your notion of the “Dream” and what it means to be a success. It’s also time to not look at the strategic choices that you make as “sacrifices,” but rather as giving you the power to have balance in your life and to achieve as much of “it all” as possible. In this way, you’re taking control of your situation, and not just mindlessly going along – possibly making decisions that you’ll someday regret.


You can’t put a price on taking your life back from the clock or the stringent regimen.


Define your own success. Your “Dream” is not your neighbor’s or your colleague’s or any celebrity in the bright light.