I just finished watching All or Nothing, a documentary that chronicles the Arizona Cardinals’ 2015 season in the NFL. From August to January we followed the ins and outs of each week, each game. In the end, though they were close to their goal, they lost the conference championship game. Their season was a failure.
They weren’t the only ones. Each year, 31 NFL seasons end in failure. Only 1 ends in success.
These do-or-die stakes make for tremendous drama. Every game matters, every win is needed. Taking it easy on one play can be the difference between victory and defeat. You have to fight for every yard, to the last whistle.
It can be tempting to feel like our own work lives have similar stakes. We can feel like we have to choose between defeating everyone, or failure. We can feel like each day is win-or-go-home, and that everything is on the line. IPO or go home, get that next round of funding or die trying, hustle today or get stepped on tomorrow.
The NFL may be an all-or-nothing league, but your project doesn’t have to be. What if, instead of a fighting to the last whistle, expending all your energy in a huge burst, you fight to show up every day? What if there’s actually enough room in the market for you and your competition to be successful? What if being successful isn’t being the last team standing, but being faithful to do the work that makes a difference?
Life isn’t all or nothing, and the greatest prize isn’t a ring and confetti.