Last night I was scrolling through Twitter, and the following tweet came up:

You see, yesterday was day 1 of spring football practice for my alma mater, Indiana University. Now, traditionally for me, March was typically much more about IU basketball than IU football, but the winds are changing. IU is a football school now! And unfortunately, our basketball program is on the struggle bus. I encourage you to take a moment to watch the video clip again, and pay attention to what head coach Tom Allen says as he’s coming up the tunnel.

First of all, if you don’t know much about Tom Allen, it’s that he is a super energetic guy (that might even be an undersell). You can hear that energy as he’s running up the tunnel! He has publicly shared that he’s gotten black eyes and broken teeth from jumping into players’ helmets in celebration. Last season, I remember watching social media highlights of some of the pre/post-game speeches that he gave in the locker room. My football playing days are long gone, but I was ready to go run through a wall for that man!

In the past, I’ve written about Jon Gordon’s book One Word That Will Change Your Life (you can see those posts here or here). Every year Coach Allen has been at IU, he has chosen a word that gives a theme to the season. This year’s word is:

What I love about the phrase “Chase greatness today” is the growth mindset that is built in. When you chase something, you might accomplish it, but you might not. The key is to not give up in the chase. During a chase, there is no way to truly fail, you can always get a little bit better, a little closer, when you chase greatness.

This idea of chasing greatness has me thinking of Tom Brady. The guy is 43 years old, and will be 44 prior to the beginning of the next NFL season. After winning his 7th Super Bowl (that’s more Super Bowls than any single franchise in the NFL has won, and makes up almost 13% of all the Super Bowls that have ever been played), it would have been easy for Brady to hang up his cleats and go live the good life of a former NFL star, just waiting for his eligibility for the NFL Hall of Fame to hit. But did he? No, he’s going to continue to work, to play, and to chase greatness.

That’s the thing about chasing greatness. There’s always more that can be done to be even better. Think about the greats, and not just from the sports world. People like Mozart, Curie, Jordan, Galilei, Bryant, Hopper, Aaron, and Einstein are often referred to as “genius” in their area of success. But if you take the time to do some research on each of them, you quickly learn that their genius is actually a function of extreme dedication and hard work over many years.

As I was thinking about this idea of chasing greatness, I was reminded of the book Relentless: Changing Lives by Disrupting the Educational Norm by Hamish Brewer. If you don’t know about Hamish Brewer, you should take a few moments to go and watch this video (I’ll be here when you get back!)

In his book, Brewer talks about this concept of “Chasing 100.” For each of us, that means we are striving to give our best each and every day. None of us can ever be perfect, but we can always chase the best we have and do our best.

And let’s pause and think about the difference between the word chase and the word achieve. The phrase “Achieve greatness today” has a very different feel to it. As I said above, the great thing about the use of the word chase is that there is no fail point. The chase never has to end. There’s always room for growth, whether you are the junior high quarterback who dreams to be like Tom Brady, or you’re actually Tom Brady, the chase goes on. On the other hand, if you use the word achieve, and you don’t get there, you have just failed. You didn’t make it.

Words can have immense impact on our beliefs about ourselves.

In his book East of Eden, John Steinbeck has one of his characters say “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” Think about the pressure that perfection and achievement put on us all. Being good at something, and striving to continue to grow is so much more powerful than ever trying to be perfect. And the reality is that nobody can ever be perfect.

As many of you know, in my past I was both a football and basketball coach. Each day at practice, we’d close by bringing it in to a huddle, putting our hands in the center, and taking a moment to reflect on what each of us had done to get better.

So, let’s all bring it in and put a hand in… Think for a moment about what it is that you are going to chase.

OK, now, Chase on 3…

1…

2…

3…

CHASE!

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