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Don’t Let Your Mistakes Define You

September 19, 2017 | by Emuna Braverman

Like the professional athlete, you’ve got to get back into the game and play to win.

I was watching some football highlights last week and pondering what it means to be a professional athlete. I watched Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs fumble the ball at the beginning of the game and then go on to catch two touchdown passes and rush for 148 yards, scoring yet another touchdown with his running game. It wasn’t his prowess I was marveling at; it was his ability to move past that fumble to become quite literally the star of the game. I think that’s the quality that distinguishes a professional from an amateur.

Like figure skaters who fall and then immediately get up and continue their routine, like baseball players who strike out in one inning and hit a home run in the next, the professional is someone who doesn’t let his mistakes define him. He doesn’t let them get him down or feel discouraged or, worst of all, give up. He keeps going, he gets back in the game and he gives it his all.

We can all learn from watching these athletes. (I knew I could justify my obsession with football somehow!) Because they are demonstrating a crucial life skill. Life can be (okay, is!) challenging. Sometimes it feels like it’s just one test after another. Some days we want to just lie in bed and pull up the covers. But the professional at the game of life won’t allow that to happen. The professional picks him or herself up and just keeps going. The professional throws himself immediately back into the game – not grudgingly, but with full energy and enthusiasm.

That is our test. That is our opportunity. At this time of year, as we think of the mistakes we made in the past and the ones we’d like to rectify for the future, it can be overwhelming. The task can seem daunting and the likelihood of success minimal. But we are professionals here; we can’t afford not to be. So despite our mistakes and flaws, we need to get back up on that horse and try again.

The Talmud teaches that a righteous person falls seven times. It’s not the falling that’s determinative; it’s the standing up again. The days may be difficult and draining but if we get up the next morning and put one foot in front of the other, we are winning the game. If we add in a smile, we are the MVP.

The professional athlete appreciates how high the stakes are in winning or losing the game, yet they are nothing compared to the stakes in the game of life that we are all playing. We can’t give up. We can’t allow ourselves to despair. We need to keep pushing forward, we need to bring our best game, we need to stay focused on the end goal.

Because in the game of life where it really counts, we’re playing for keeps.

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