One of the most mind boggling, yet simplistic and straight forward truths is summed up by author James Allen. Mr. Allen said, “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much.”
I could literally chew on those words for days on end. And it needs a good bit of chewing, because it is a hard truth to swallow.
We all want to experience great success in life. I truly believe that deep down everyone desires to do something significant. To make a contribution in life that impacts the world. But how much are we willing to sacrifice in order to make that success a reality?
I’m reminded of my junior year in high school. It was my first year at a large public high school. I’d spent the two previous years at a small private Christian school where I played several sports. That is with the exception of a few sports that weren’t offered due to the school’s size. I was very excited to finally have an opportunity to play baseball at the high school level as this one of the sports that wasn’t offered at the private school. As a kid I’d grown up playing baseball. I’d played every year since the age I was capable of holding a bat and wrapping a cheap plastic glove around my frail little fingers. Although I loved playing many different sports baseball was my passion, and I’d worked hard to develop my game over the course of my life.
I quickly discovered that the baseball team was a perennial state playoff contender and had a strong reputation for its quality and performance. That created more excitement in me but also a bit of nervousness around my ability to make the squad. Fortunately when tryouts rolled around I was selected to be a member of the team. I was overflowing with excitement and confidence. I’d achieved being selected to play not just on any team, but a good team.
As the season rolled on we had our ups and downs, but we were on pace to make the state playoffs again. I’ll never forget the time when coach pulled me over before practice for a quick chat with only a few games remaining on the regular season schedule. He said, “you’ll be able to finish out this week’s remaining practices and games but then you’ll no longer be a part of the team due to your grades.” I was shocked, devastated, and embarrassed. It was only a matter of time and everyone would know that I ‘got cut.’
Henry David Thoreau summed it up well when he said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Looking back on that experience, I realize now that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice what was required to be a part of that team. It was more than just my failing grades. When guys on the team would go to the batting cage after practice, or practice on a Saturday, I’d elect to hang out with friends and party/socialize. Instead of using time during the week to complete homework assignments or go to the gym, I’d defer to video games and other activities that gave me instant gratification. I wasn’t willing to exchange enough of myself to be a part of that success. I wasn’t willing to pay the price, and it ultimately cost me.
Even though the team didn’t win the state championship that year, they went on to make a deep run in the state playoffs. I wish I would have been a part of that experience.
I did learn a great lesson though. I know now that the degree of my success is dependent on the degree of sacrifice I’m willing to make.