Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On the Bench

The term "Bench Player" has a lot of connotations. John Maxwell talks about it as a good thing. If you're on the bench then you're the supporting team. You're the one they'll call on when something needs to change or when the score needs to be made without the star player on the field. He advises coaches in all areas of life to have a strong "bench" - a large group of backup players who can be counted on to help them toward their goals.

Most of us understand the bench to be a bad thing. We know that if you're sitting on the bench for the whole game, that means you didn't play. You didn't get to actively participate in the victory. Sure, everyone on the team won - and when we're talking about teams that's what matters.

But nobody looks at the stats card of a lifetime bencher and says "Jerry, this guy is amazing, truly amazing! He's spent his entire life sitting on that bench!"

We know this, and so when we're on the team it takes a lot of patience and self control not to try to force our way off the bench and into the game. I've seen high school players get violent over it. "Let me play, coach! Just let me play!" They'll scream about it. They'll work harder in practice for it. They'll get into brawls with each other over it. Something inside them instinctively screams "I have a stake here, let me do something about it!"

Yet, in the game of life, so many of us are content to just sit on the bench. In fact, many of us aren't even geared up. We aren't ready to be called off the bench! We're making ourselves permanent backseat players in our own lives.

Remember when you were a kid and you had an idea of what being a grownup was going to be like? Remember the kind of house you thought you'd live in, the kind of person you thought you'd marry, the kind of life you thought you'd live?

Let me ask you a personal question:

Today, do you live in that house? Did you marry that person? Do you live that life?

I'm betting the answer to at least one of those is no.

For most of the population, the answer isn't just no. The reality is so far from where we thought we'd be that we have to follow the no with excuses. "No, but y'know, times are tough." "No, but I didn't understand the world back then."

If you have to say no, and if you have to follow that no with an excuse, you're a bench player in your own life. You put on the jersey of someone else's team and spend your day taking a beating in their game, then you come home and sit on the couch and watch TV. Sometimes you spend the weekend with a different team jersey on, but it's still not yours.

You're not looking at the score in your own game, you don't know who your teammates are, you probably don't even know what your gear looks like anymore.

As a result, you're losing your game.

What does that look like for you? Do you live in a worse neighborhood than your family deserves? Maybe your house is smaller than you always thought it would be. Maybe you're ignoring the fact that the food you eat isn't good for you, might even be killing you, but you eat it because it's what you can afford. If you're like most Americans, the vacations you take - if you take vacation at all - are disappointing, more of an exercise in playing pretend than a vacation.

Whatever it looks like, I'm betting that all in all your life has gone in a different direction from where you thought you'd be.

And I'm betting you don't know what to do about it. Most of us don't. We look around at 20 or 30 or 40 and say "How did I get here?"

The answer, my friend, is that you've been benching in your own life. You're supposed to be the star player, but you've been sitting down, sitting out.

But there's good news!

This is still your game, it's still your life, and your destiny is still to get out there and be the star player. It won't be easy. You've got to train, to rebuild the muscles you've allowed to atrophy. But you can do it. You can get off the bench and start making a difference in your own life. Start taking hold of your own victory.

If we were talking about sports, you probably wouldn't be content to spend season after season on the team but never getting to play the game. So don't be content to do so in your life.

It's your life. You have every right to win! You just have to go out there and earn it.

No comments:

Post a Comment