Game Changers – Changing the Game

It is easy to think about obstacles whenever you think about doing something. It is smart to envision failure, so you can see it coming. It is also important to envision overcoming those failures to make a best effort to overcome the challenges and succeed.

When I think of Tiger Woods, Kamala Harris, Paul Rabil, Dustin Johnson, Eminem, Lamar Jackson, Michael Jordan and others, I think about the obstacles they overcame to get to where they went and will go moving forward.

I’m reading the snippets of news about how Tiger will most likely, barring a miracle, put the green jacket on Dustin Johnson later today. But, Tiger changed the game. I don’t know if he ever identified as “black” but he certainly is, as a mixed race person, someone who has given hope to millions of people of all races. He showed that commitment and encouragement from an early age can make someone perform beyond what people think is possible. He changed the game.

Kamala Harris went from being a “black” woman to being a leader of the United States, and will likely be the first woman president, if an aging Biden has to step aside. Very likely in my opinion. What will that look like? It doesn’t matter, because for millions of women, especially women in other countries who aren’t given equality of opportunity, just getting elected is a very big deal. She changed the game.

Paul Rabil was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age. While I personally feel some conditioned have labels assigned to them that may not necessarily be spot on, it was clear that Mr. Rabil though differently. It was the strong support of his family, friends and teachers that helped him to think past that challenge and apply his amazing level of commitment and focus to be arguably the best lacrosse player in the world. He also apply that intelligence and commitment to obstacles he saw in the business of lacrosse, that created significant challenges for any aspiring lacrosse players thinking about making a career of the sport they loved. He changed the game.

Dustin Johnson, currently top of the leader board at the Masters’ is on this list because he is currently the number one ranked golfer in the world. Is he a game changer? Well, he is trying. And, it is clear that after overcoming a recent infection of Covid-19 he has shown millions of people that you can get that disease and still move forward to not only survive but continue to be the best player in the world. I think it is also important to show that someone can still go out and make things happen at a time when many people are withdrawing to their homes, not going into the office and starting to get scared that the next few months could be the most challenging of their lives. He is changing the game.

As Eminem said, you only get one chance. Opportunity may only come once in a lifetime. So, you must have the ability to step back, recognize that opportunity and go for it. Make it happen. Envision yourself doing something nobody has done before. Go against what people think is proper. Inspire others. Show everyone that you are putting everything into it and make it clear that you are a fighter, smart and are going to succeed regardless of the haters or doubters. He change the game.

Lamar Jackson. Wow! As someone in Baltimore, I can only think that the time Lamar Jackson spent as a backup quarterback was wasted time that he could have been changing the game. After Coach Harbaugh decided to let Flacco go and move Lamar up, against the advice of armchair quarterbacks everywhere, it was clear that this was a special player. He immediately took his soft spoken, dedicated and immensely talented game to the floor and showed his ability to inspire players and change the thinking of offensive coordinators.

He immediately took other teams by surprise by focusing on his running, whenever he saw an opening. While other quarterbacks stay in the pocket and don’t run a lot, Jackson is basically a running back who can also clearly throw a ball. His throwing ability has improved but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to run as much as opportunity dictates.

Michael Jordan, known to many as the best player who ever lived, got cut from his basketball team when he was young. He went to a basketball camp, committed to making himself better, obsessed about the game and thrived on opportunities to show his competitors that he would not take their criticism lightly. He would turn that criticism into energy and make them sorry they ever opened their mouths, especially if they were playing next to him.

Overcoming challenges. Recognizing that change can happen. Think about the criticism but don’t let it put you down or hold you back. Get shit done.

Change the game.