If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you already know I’m a sports fan and have been avidly watching my Wisconsin Badgers dance their way into the Final 4 in the College Basketball tournament.
On Saturday night, they took on the Arizona Wildcats in the Elite 8 — this was actually a repeat of last year’s Elite 8 where the Badgers won in overtime by one point on a controversial foul to get to the Final 4.
(Stay with me here even if you’re not a sports fan — I promise it will be worth it.)
Needless to say, it rankled AZ that Wis knocked them out of the tournament last year and they spent the summer doing whatever they could to get back to the Big Dance and finally end up in the Final 4.
And lo and behold, here was their big shot. They had the chance to beat Wis in the Elite 8, send Wis home and prove they were the better team all along.
Except it didn’t go that way.
Now, for anyone who is an AZ fan, I am NOT dissing you or trying to rub anything in (look, I may be right here next week with you if Kentucky knocks Wis out of the Final 4 just like they did last year). I had a really interesting reaction watching the game and I thought it would be super valuable to share.
You see, watching the game as a Badger fan, I was super excited when Wis just turned on the juice and everything they threw even remotely close to the basket went in. They were on another level shooting. And in the final minute, one of the Badgers buried a 3-point shot that AZ actually did a good job defending.
That was the dagger. That was when everyone knew it was over.
Up by 10, a minute left.
At home, I was cheering. YES — they’re going back to the Final 4. YES — they have a chance to avenge last year’s loss to Kentucky and maybe, dare we hope, win a national championship.
And then, they showed a shot of the AZ bench.
A couple of the players were crying.
And all of my joy just seeped out of me.
All I could think about was “God, what do you do when your best isn’t good enough? How do you drag yourself out of bed each morning?”
And I realized just how much that holds me back in my own life and business.
You see, if I never give it my all — if I never “leave it all on the court” then I never have to face that question. I never have to say to myself “my best wasn’t good enough.”
I always have an excuse. I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t put in the hours practicing and honing my craft the way I should have. I didn’t give myself that extra push for whatever reason. Because if I did, by God, I would have been good enough.
I always hold back a little. And what a disservice I’m doing to myself and my gifts.
Arizona didn’t lose because they played badly. Arizona actually played really really well. In fact, it was one of their best offensive games all season. Wisconsin was just the better team that night. And for Arizona, who have been telling themselves for year now they were robbed, they were the better team, they were the ones who should have gone to the Final 4 and not Wisconsin…you could see that despair in their faces as the truth was sinking in.
They played their best. They left everything out on the court. There was nothing they could have done any better.
Because when it counted, their best wasn’t good enough.
I don’t know what to say to them because I don’t know how to answer that question myself. I don’t know how I would get out of bed the next morning. But what I was starting to realize watching this is me holding myself back so I don’t have to face that question, isn’t doing anyone any favors — especially myself.
So it’s time. Time to face what scares me. Because really — isn’t the true reward past that terrifying monster that scares us the most? And the only way to get there is to open the door and walk past all that sharp teeth and snapping jaws?
(And yes, I’ll say it again because really — my heart hurts for AZ. I could be writing this story in a week except substituting Wisconsin for Arizona and Kentucky for Wisconsin.)
I’d love to know if you hold yourself back as well because you don’t think your ego could handle facing that question or if you have any tips on how you can answer that question.
Something to ponder this week.