I grew up in the 1980s, when cable television was pretty much in its infancy and was All The Rage. I watched the first MTV video and can still remember when VH1 and MTV played videos. Another staple in my household that arrived through the cable airwaves? Chicago sports on WGN, which meant Cubs baseball in the summer and Bears football in the fall.
If you have any awareness of professional football in the 80s, you will be familiar with one of the NFL’s greatest running backs of all time, and arguably one of the most talented men to ever grace astroturf. I am, of course, referring to Number 34: Walter “Sweetness”Â Payton.
If ever an athlete could be said to embody poetry in motion, this is the guy. He was simply moving art. Don’t believe me? Watch this. I’ll wait.
Some of the takeaways I get from his life and career can be summed up as follows:
- Adapt. Being nimble and agile keeps you in the game and keeps you moving the ball downfield. Learn how to convert your energies and redirect when you must in order to fulfill your over-arching goal.
- Integrate your actions with that of your team. Understand that holes in the offense do not appear from thin air. Your opportunities may oftentimes occur due to the diligence and teamwork of others. Thank them and do not take them for granted. Work together.
- Build your endurance. This is a derivation of “adaptability,”Â but in my mind, it is a contributing and supporting factor and therefore warrants its own line item. Walter’s ability to think on the fly and move the way he did to seize opportunities was predicated on the fact that he invested in his health: mentally, spiritually and physically. He had perfected his Shell to the point that it could be a Conduit for something we seldom witness.
- Love what you do. Look at his smile! Holy cats, this man lived in joy and celebrated what he brought to the game. As I’ve said in previous posts, love is the ballast that anchors achievement in any field. When you love what you do, excellence is a natural outgrowth.
These are four *very* brief lessons from a man whose life inspired and touched many.
Apart from his sports career, his legacy also includes both investing in neglected, abused and underprivileged children and an awareness of organ donation, which arose from his battle with the rare autoimmune liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis. Learn more about his compassion in action that lives on through the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation and the University of Illinois Walter Payton Liver Center.
Do you have any stories to share? Was (is) there a time when you pushed through the “defense” to reach your goal? How do these lessons apply in your own life? career?
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation).