August 27, 2019

Andrew Luck’s Retirement is a Reminder You Define Success for Yourself

My wife and I were out for dinner with old friends on Saturday evening at a great spot in downtown St. Louis. My phone started to buzz and I checked to see the lock screen filled with messages from the “Boys.” My son who lives in Indiana heard it first and quickly texted his older brother and me. Three words: Andrew Luck Retired.

As a big sports fan, I regularly take life and leadership lessons from the sports world. Upon hearing this really big news, I was in shock. Leaving the restaurant, I told Katie that I’d need some TV time when we got home. I turned on NFL Network just in time to see Luck’s announcement and hear him say this live:

"This is not an easy decision. Honestly, it's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me. For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football.

"I've been stuck in this process. I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. Taken the joy out of the game, and after 2016, when I played in pain and was unable to regularly practice, I made a vow to myself that I would not go down that path again. I find myself in a similar situation and the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football and this cycle that I’ve been in.”

"I’ve come to the proverbial fork in the road, and I made a vow to myself that if I ever did again, I’d choose me, in a sense.” 

I’m writing this post for two reasons. First, I’m shocked by the selfish, childish, entitled, and angry response from fans and sportswriters alike. The vitriol on social channels…the fans in Lucas Oil Stadium booing Luck as he walked off the field and then justifying it on twitter…the moronic, judgmental media people like Doug Gottlieb who became the most hated man on twitter with this tweet:

Oh, the haters and armchair quarterbacks! My goodness. Gotta love a wimpy second-rate media personality with a checkered past and questionable integrity calling a loved, high-integrity, All-Pro Quarterback a wimp….that same quarterback who played with a kidney laceration and suffered torn cartilage, a concussion, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and now whatever this calf/ankle injury is that he has now.

My second motivation in writing about this is to remind myself (and others) that we should be the ones defining what success means for ourselves. That’s right. YOU determine your own definition for success. Not your parents. Not your siblings. Not your professors. Not your employer. Not your boss. Not your friends or fans. And definitely not your detractors and haters!

My dad has a great expression:  “This is not practice; this is your life.” It’s YOUR life. YOU have to decide what you want from it. And it’s safe to conclude that 99.9% of people reading this live in free countries, have the agency and free will to chose their own goals, profession, industry, and often even their employer.

How clear are your life goals and your business goals? Are they in alignment?

Do you love what you do? Is your heart engaged?

Are you living to achieve your dreams or someone else’s?

I'm asking myself these questions (and more) as I process Luck’s decision to step away from the game he lived and loved, and I would challenge you to take a personal inventory as well. Is what you are doing now allowing you to live the life you’d design for yourself? And if not, what needs to change?

To me, this is the key line that Andrew Luck shared:

"I've been stuck in this process. I haven't been able to live the life I want to live.”

Where and why might you be stuck? What would it take to “unstick” yourself? And what tough decisions must be made to put yourself (back) on the path to “living the life you want to live?”

Andrew Luck made what he says was the toughest decision of his life. Sure, your (financial) situation and lifetime earnings are likely very different than his, but don’t let that stop you from using this big news story as the catalyst to evaluate where you are compared to where you want to be.

My father said it perfectly. This is not practice. This is your life.

Michael Hyatt regularly reminds readers and listeners: “What is temporary will become permanent unless you change something."

And Jim Rohn put it as plainly as possible: “If you don’t like how things are, change it! You are not a tree.”

I respected and admired Andrew Luck as a football player and I have even more respect for his decision to walk away from the game and the huge money remaining on his contract at the age of 29. I’m committed to maximizing the impact of his bold decision in my own life and my hope is that you will, too.