The Most Amazing Game

Nate Crosby |

There is this race.  

And it is the most amazing and unique race you and I will ever run. 

Here are the rules:

  1. Rule #1: The clock never stops running. There is no injury time out, no half-time.  The clock doesn’t stop and it’s not soccer, there will be no additional time added to the clock when regulation time is over.  When that buzzer sounds, that’s it. Game over. 

You can rest whenever you want, and you’ll need to, but when and how long is up to each participant. You and I must manage that downtime. In the meantime, the clock is ticking. 

  1. The amount of  time on the clock is unknown.  Some participants get no time. Some get quite a bit of time, relatively speaking. Some are right now in the final minutes of their race, some of them understand that, some of them have no idea time is about to run out.  Which group am we a part of? I don’t know, but I do know I’ve already been given more time than many of those who have competed before me. I’m extremely thankful for that, and so I have to assume, I have to play the game, as if my time can run out any second.  None of the participants know when their final buzzer will sound. It could be today, it could be 70 years from now, but it will sound, that buzzer eventually is coming for all of us

But here is what is amazing about that. 

Time has to eventually run out.  To keep this race amazing, it has to run out.  Because it’s that every running clock that gives each sunrise its significance.  Without the clock it’s just a sunrise.  There will be another one tomorrow.  But with the clock it’s amazing because it’s here and now and there’s no promise it will come again. We are in this moment and we are able to act. 

We see a mother holding her child; the clock tells us this moment is special. Hold onto it.  In fact, you may want to take a picture of it, because it’s fleeting. When we see a picture of a grandmother holding her grandchild the clock says, “Be grateful, not everyone gets this moment.”

Time must run and eventually run out to give significance from moment to moment, but there is something else.  Time has to run out to give someone else an opportunity.  A chance to compete.  If we are fortunate we will have our time, but eventually we must exit the race to let someone else run. Someone else who has fresh energy, fresh ideas.  This also helps to keep the race unique and amazing. 

  1. Do you know what else? We don’t all start from the same starting line. Good, bad, better or worse, those who we tip our caps to along the way, they just compete. They don’t brag about a fortunate position, they don’t complain starting in the rear.  They just compete.  They just play.  Because the gift is not fairness or what is owed to us. If we are in the race, that is the gift, we have a chance to show what we can do.

There those who have used a poor starting position to motivate and propel themselves forward.  There are those who have squandered very fortunate starting positions.  Those people who squander fortunate starting positions do so because they’ve never been humbled.  If they had been humbled they would be grateful, and they would honor others, those with less fortunate starting positions by making the most of their advantages. How do we make the most of any disadvantages we’ve been given? That’s right, the disadvantages. 

The people we remember, are those who faced and overcame disadvantages.  Why do we remember Alexander Hamilton?  Because he came from nothing .  He came from nothing with a capital N.  Born an orphan in squalor, he refused to stay there. He refused to be a victim.  Through sheer human will, he rose to fight, lead and help finance what would become the most prosperous nation on Earth. Without the Civil War Abraham Lincoln may have been a President, but would history remember him as one of our greatest?  Jackie Robinson had a career batting average that was over .300. That alone would have made him an outstanding player, but the color barrier made his legacy immortal.  

We’ve talked about this before, as Ryan Holiday wrote, the Obstacle is the Way.  Your disadvantage is your advantage. Your disadvantage is not a roadblock, it is the path. Lean into it. Albert Einstein didn’t speak until age 4.  Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark.  Ben Franklin only received formal teaching until age 10.  Richard Branson has Dyslexia. One might say their disadvantages were no factor in their final success. 

I disagree.   Their disadvantages made them stronger, better, because they had to work hard. 

When was the last time you paid money to watch a movie about a person who was born into wealth and prosperity and coasted through the most uneventful life in which everything was given to them without resistance? Rule #3: Our starting positions are uniquely different.   Perhaps we should be thankful if our starting positions were behind a few more hurdles than the average participant.  You and I have no intention of being average. 

  1. Here’s what else is unique about this race.  What are we competing for?  We are competing against time, yes, but what are we competing for?  Why run? 

The goal.

The prize.

The reason for which we run is as unique as the race itself.   Your definition of success and level of fulfillment is totally up to you.  Your life, your race. My life, my race. This means that you are are are not competing against each other.  My neighbor’s level of success may be owning a Bently. That’s fine, his life, his race.  I couldn’t care less about the make or brand of a car.  I’m not competing against him because my definition of success is my own.  To what extent can I reach my maximum potential? My quest is to answer that question.  As a father, as an advisor, as a husband, as a human being. How close can I get before that buzzer sounds for me? That’s what I want to find out. 

Here is a simple but highly effective life hack for extending your actionable year by ¼.  The Earth takes 365 ¼ days to orbit the sun.  This hack will increase your usable actionable year by 91 days.  

Get a pen or pencil because this formula can be difficult for some to remember.  Are you ready for it?  

Get up.  

Get up? 

Yep, that’s it.  Get up two hours earlier than you currently do.  If my feet hit the ground at 5:00 AM and your day starts at 7:00 AM, I’ve got a small head start on the day.  It’s a head start, but not a giant head start. But over the course of the year, my head start grows from 2 hours to 730 hours.  

Assuming an 8 hour work day, I’ve added 91 extra work days to my year. What can you get done in 91 days? No compound that, adding an adding the equivalent of 91 working days per year to a 30 or 40 year career.  Your goals move from attainable to probable. 

What is the most common thing people say as their time is running out?  “I wish I had more time.”   Get up.  Here is another hack. Find an accountability partner.  When the alarm goes off at 4:55, instead of hitting snooze, send a text.  Send a text to your accountability partner, and if your accountability partner doesn’t receive the text by 5:10 AM, you have to Venmo them $20.  The night before I may look up a quote that is relevant to send to my growth partners.  I have a few of them.  Guys and girls that get after it. I want them to know that I’m not a victim of the alarm.  Here’s the attitude: That alarm isn’t for me, it's for the world.  Wake up, because I’m coming. 

How does that change your day?  When you flick that switch and you go from victim who doesn’t get to sleep in to a person on a mission; on the warpath. The day doesn’t stand a chance.  The day starts reacting to you, because you are dictating, you are creating, you are manifesting what will become of that day.  

Behavior experts say that it takes anywhere from 21 to 50 days to form a habit, depending on how complex the task is.  What I believe you will find after a month or two is that you will look back, and the question you ask is not how much do I miss those two hours of sleep, you ask how can the masses sleep in?  

Perhaps in their bedrooms they can’t hear the ticking of the clock.