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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Character

This past Sunday was the closest finish for the championship in NASCAR history.   Thirty-seven races (not including the All-Star race) over 10 months, and the top two guys ended up tying!  Tony Stewart ended up winning the championship because he won the race, which was the only possible way he could have run since the points leader, Carl Edwards, finished the race in second.  Carl Edwards had a 3 point lead on Stewart going into the night, and had the best average finish over the past 10 races (4.9...9 total top ten finishes out of 10 races) ever.  Carl would have won every Championship in NASCAR history...except this one.

1.306 seconds.  That's how far back Carl Edwards finished to Tony Stewart.  For the last 37 laps of the race...Carl Edwards did everything he knew how to do.  He pulled out every trick he could to try to catch and pass Tony Stewart, only to finish 1.306 seconds behind him...1.306 seconds away from a championship.  This is what 1.306 seconds looks like:
Here is Carl Edwards response after the race:

“I told myself, I told my family that the one thing I’m going to do is I’m going to walk back to that motor home, win, lose or draw, and I’m going to be a good example for my kids and work hard and go be better next season,” he said. “I feel like personally, I passed the test. I didn’t fall into the trap of the trash-talking – I didn’t change the person I am to go compete at my highest level. I felt like I did it my way, and I’m proud of that.”

Last night, I was on the phone with a good friend who was in a very important golf tournament a week ago.  The stakes were pretty huge, and this was something he had been practicing and working towards for years.  It was a four day tournament, and he had three good rounds, but ended up missing the cut by 3 shots.

One hole.  He described to me that he had one nightmare hole, and it cost him everything.  He hit the right clubs at the right times and told me that everything felt right...it just wasn't.   Total disaster was the result.  One hole...11 shots...tournament over.  One hole.
He said he apologized to his caddy and the other three guys in the tournament right there when he finished that hole and then finished out the round.  At the end of the day, he again apologized to the other three guys he was playing with that day.  Instead of being angry with him for taking so long to finish out a hole, each one of the guys complimented him on how he handled himself during the nightmare.

"Character" can be defined simply as, "reputation."  You either have good character or you don't.  I believe pressure situations bring out a person's true character.  Winning doesn't show who someone truly is...losing does.   

1.306 seconds...3 shots.  Reasons for anger, frustration, choice words, out of control behavior, etc.    Winning championships (or even just winning) can cause people to do pretty terrible things, especially when they lose.  Neither Carl Edwards or my friend ended up with the win they were hoping for, but they both walked away with something much more important:  Good Character.

"You must have the same attitude that Jesus Christ had."
Philippians 2:5

Who will you be remembered as?  What is your reputation going to be?  Only you are in charge of the answer.  Consider your character before you speak or act.  Stay strong.

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