“Love makes the world go round.”- W.S. Gilbert
We all know what it feels like to watch an astonishing performance. Many of us know what it feels like to pull off an astonishing performance. Some know what it feels like to consistently perform at an astonishing level. Lets take some time to discuss three intangibles that are woven into the fabric of great performances and performers.
The first of these intangibles is Love. Love can mean many things and have many contexts, but I want to focus on the contexts that lead to great performance. In its purist form, love is serving the best interest of someone or something outside of oneself, usually implying personal sacrifice. Great performances are always the result of the performer “laying it all on the line”, and love is the motivation for doing exactly that.
While we can perform for selfish love, i.e., the love of the praises of others, the love of money and status, these selfish motivations have their limits. If we are operating in self-interest, there is a point where it is more self-serving to avoid further sacrifice than to seek more rewards. We’ve all seen the pro athlete whose performance is amazing right up until the time he or she signs the big long term deal, and then suddenly he or she is just another player.
The greatest performances occur when the performer’s motivation stems from his or her love for things outside of him or herself such as the love of the game, of family members, of a coach, and/or of teammates, or of one’s God. The greater the love an athlete has, the greater the motivation to succeed, since quitting will hurt not only oneself, but also a community, and even the honor of the sport. And let’s not forget, the time we need the most motivation is when there is no one watching. It is in the preparation for the performance that the true work occurs and tests our character the most. Am I willing to sacrifice when no fans are watching, when the game is not on the line?
In team sports, the teams that make and prevail in the playoffs are the teams that love each other the most. Love multiplies energy on a team. When I truly love a teammate, I share joy in his success, and so I am energized by it. I’m also willing to sacrifice for him and count it an honor to “take one for the team”. It is no coincidence that when I look back on my 11 year NFL career, the years I went to the playoffs were the years I was on a team that loved each other the most, and none more than the 1998 Atlanta Falcons who went to the Super Bowl.
So here’s my advice to anyone wanting to be a great performer and part of a championship teams: Take time to cultivate your love for what you do, and your love for your teammates, coaches, friends, and family members. That love will propel you to your best performances.