I think everyone can relate when I say there are times in your life when despite how hard you try things still don’t pan out. How draining are those times when you write a paper a week in advance, but wait until the day it is due to print, and every printer you come across somehow has printing issues? How annoying are the times you put in the extra effort in your sport, coming early, staying late, eating, sleeping and breathing your sport, simply to have multiple poor performances or be benched.
It has happened to the best of us, and while that can be demoralizing and leave you defeated, in the words of Mother Teresa, “Give the world your best and it may never be enough, give your best anyway…”
When I was younger my AAU (travel basketball) coach always told my team to think of ourselves as a brand. When you open up a can of Coke what do you taste? Well, you taste Coke. But if you open up a different can of Coke what do you taste? You taste the same thing, the same Coke flavor. The reasoning behind this is because Coke as a company has developed a brand, the Coke brand. With every Coke bottle you open you are guaranteed the same level of excellence in taste. His point was that we should do the same on the court. Whenever college coaches came to watch our team play he wanted them to see the same brand of basketball, heart, hustle and intensity, that they saw in prior games. No drop offs, no let downs.
In my opinion, this same level of thinking can be applied to how you live your life. Your brand is what you show off to other people whether you mean to or not. It is your work ethic, how you carry yourself, how you treat others and much more. Ultimately, what you should want is to have a brand that is committed to showing off the same level of excellence despite your current circumstances. This means not letting one aspect of your life dramatically affect other parts of your life. Did you do poorly on the research paper you spent the last four weeks working on? Or not get the bonus you clearly deserved after diligently working for your boss this past year? As unfortunate as those scenarios may be, how you feel about that paper or the raise should not be taken out on others. More importantly, these events should not taint the effort you put into your future assignments or quality of work you put forth at your job. Why? Simply because, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” (Steve Prefontaine). The gift being the brand you have created for yourself.
No one is going to come up to you and say, “Hey, you’re sacrificing your brand” or “That’s not the same level of enthusiasm I saw the last time you did that assignment”. Your brand is something personal. It was self-created and needs to be self-maintained purely because you care enough about the effort and the products you put out for other people to see. With that being said, it is so easy to crumble when things don’t go your way, but it speaks volumes about your character if things do not go your way and you still continue to give the same effort if not more than you originally began with. My challenge to you is when things get tough make sure you protect your brand and give nothing less than your best.