Not Self, But Others

This past weekend I had the honor of being inducted into the Ferrum College Football Hall of Fame. Actually it was the entire team from the 1965 National Championship team. Ferrum is now a four year school, but at the time we won the Championship it was a Junior College. Can you say “bad student Tommy?”

I was a defensive safety. Fast and mean. Imagine that. If you have an appreciation for football you can probably appreciate the fact that we went 10-0, had 7 shutouts and only gave up 18 points the entire year. That’s strong as goat’s breath. I (We) might have been better than I thought.

I’m not writing this to tell you about my accomplishments, as much as to tell you about a couple of observations.

First, I hadn’t seen my teammates for 47 years. Though most sounded the same, none even came close to looking the same. Many are overweight. All are aging just like me. When I look at the original team photos I sorta gasp. What the heck happened?

In a sense it seems just like yesterday we were beating and banging on each other and in a flash we’re all as old as dirt. I don’t get it. What happened to all the time? Where did it go? How did this all happen so fast?

The message here, whether it’s business or your personal lives and regardless of where you are in the cycle of life, enjoy it, try to understand that if things are good or bad that where you are today will not last forever. Enjoy where you are.

I had another great take away from the ceremonies I want to share with you.

One of the other items on the agenda was the presentation of the “Distinguished Alumni Award.”

As the master of ceremonies was going over a former tennis player’s list of accomplishments he mentioned she had won an annual “sportsmanship award” presented by the NCAA.

When she got up to speak, she told the story behind the award. She stated that her coach had always warned her to make sure she took two tennis rackets with her to every match just in case one broke. The way she put it is, “he had beat it into her head.”

In the middle of a regional NCAA tournament match her opponent broke her racket. And guess what? Her opponent didn’t have a spare. Apparently there is an amount of time they give you to come up with another racket. The other player’s coach was not present to help her find one and time was running out. She was going to have to forfeit the match. The young lady who won the award gave her opponent her spare. And guess what? You guessed it didn’t you? Her opponent beat her with her own racket.

The school’s motto is, “Not self, but others.” She obviously learned well. When you put others first, you always win. The game of life (and the game of business) is short. Putting others first always makes you and the team winners. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs