A coach can have a lasting impact on a player in ways that even the coach might not even imagine. I remember Coach Kushner always telling me, “Lance, you know who your biggest enemy is — it’s not the guy across from you — it’s the guy inside your head!”
As I embarked on my own coaching career, his words become more meaningful with each passing season.
Many kids today think that if you aren’t winning, then it isn’t any fun and hardly worth the sacrifice.
Winning championships, receiving scholarships, having the privilege of attending NFL and CFL combines, being drafted, honored as a coach in two different states is what some might consider success, but I did more losing before I became what might be described as a “winner.”
I had to lose the idea that I could rely solely on my ability as an athlete to be successful when my professor told me I had better get my act together or I would fail. I had to lose an attitude of selfishness when my college coach needed me to make the switch from my dream position as a defensive end to play left tackle and protect our quarterback’s blindside.
I had to lose sight of myself and focus on what was possible if I gave more to teammates with less talent who needed support to help us win big games. I had to lose the misguided notion that I was the center of the universe when my college coaches met with me to ask me to consider completing my senior year instead of attempting to make a professional team.
The biggest enemy of winning is thinking that we can’t lose or make sacrifices because fear takes over, makes us weak and then we settle for “good enough.” If you want to be a “winner,” then losing won’t be something you fear but one of the many ways you figure out how to improve or maybe even what you really should be doing.
I’ve never thought that losing meant failure but simply that something wasn’t working and it was my job to try and figure it out — which is one of the most valuable lessons we can ever learn.