Emmitt Smith is a rarity on many levels. He achieved every goal he set forth for himself when he met Jerry Jones 20 years ago. He wanted to win the Super Bowl more than once. Check. He wanted to lead the league in rushing. Check. He wanted to lead the league in touchdowns. Check. And yes, he broke the NFL all-time leading rusher with a mere 18,355 rushing yards under his belt. Check Check.
When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame a few weeks ago, it was with supreme heart, grace, and generosity in which he accepted this honor. He acknowledged his family, his friends, his coaches (high school to pro), and his teammates – most notably Daryl Johnson, his fullback. Choking back tears, he attributed Daryl’s sacrifices to ‘take care of his brother.’ His acceptance was emotional and incredibly humble. Generous to the end.
In addition to admiring an incredible athletic career and his authentic appreciation to God and others, I took away two powerful lessons from Emmitt’s acceptance speech:
- He set forth, early in his career, his ‘end goal.’ What he wanted to achieve. He said it out loud. He wrote it down. He declared it to his boss. He owned it from the start and worked hard to get there.
- He recognized he may not have been blessed with exceptional style or speed, yet he held onto who he was. Period. “What I want to convey here,” he says, “is never, ever let others define yourself. You define yourself.”
What lessons we can learn from Emmitt! We, too, can declare our ‘end game’ and own it! We, too, can absolutely define ourselves and stand tall to those who try to place labels or stereotypes on us. We may not be admitted into The Pro Football Hall of Fame, yet we have every opportunity to choose our path, own it, and define who and what we want to be. That beats fame every time.