Burning Desire

I want to be remembered as the guy who gave his all, whenever he was on the field.

Walter Payton

One of my sports heroes was nicknamed Sweetness – he was Walter Payton, the legendary running back for The Chicago Bears. Payton held the record for rushing yards for many years after his 13-year career in the NFL. He was only 5’10” tall and weighed about 200 pounds, which is small by NFL standards, but he was one of the toughest men who ever put on a professional football uniform. He missed just one game in his 13 seasons; he had a sprained ankle one week in his rookie season and had insisted that he could have and should have played. He met every tackler with the intention of giving at least as punishing a blow as he was about to take.

Sportswriter Josh Staph described Payton’s off-season training regime as follows: “His off-season training routine was so challenging that it became legendary among other professional players. Payton purposely ran during the hottest hours of the day. In addition to weightlifting, he pushed his already-fatigued body with daily gut-checks in the Mississippi heat. Describing those workouts, Payton once said, “You get to a point where you have to keep pushing yourself. You stop, throw up, and push yourself again. There’s no one else around to feel sorry for you.”

But the most incredible thing about Walter Payton was the tremendous grace and dignity with which he conducted himself off the football field. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, Walter Payton’s kind, compassionate, and humorous character will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the people who knew him best. His burning desire to use his God-given talents and abilities to the utmost will always be a great source of inspiration for me, as well as for many others, who witnessed his unwavering commitment to excellence.

In the pursuit of any goal, I have discovered that a burning desire to achieve it, and the commitment to do whatever is necessary in the pursuit of it, does not necessarily guarantee success. But these qualities do give us a tremendous home-field advantage (no pun intended!).

Do I honestly have a burning desire to achieve my goals and 100% commitment to doing whatever it takes in the pursuit of them? Do I give it my all, whenever I’m on that field?

© John G. 2021

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