Over the last several months I have run into cases, and have spoken publicly in a few venues about what I have sometimes termed "extreme ego." I started to find myself compelled to write about it as I am beginning to believe it is one of the major causes for people to not be as successful as they really could. One of the most common ways I have heard this ego being thrown around is in the form of defining ones "Legacy."
As the necessary underpinning regarding ones "Legacy" we as a species have to grapple with the simple fact that we are mortal in a corporeal sense and only get so many turns on this mud ball we call Earth. Not an easy prospect I grant you and an understandable reason why, in some cases, people want to create a "Legacy" for themselves. In this way one can "live" on beyond their time on this planet. People want to be remembered and this would seem one way to accomplish this goal. For many, imparting life lessons to children, be it their own or others, is one way to accomplish this idea of "Legacy."
In other cases however, this creation of "Legacy" is a way for some to say "look at me and how awesome I am." This at times can include when one is at the end of their own life and is looking to "live on" or when one is transitioning to another thing in their current life and want to be remembered for how "awesome I am" and want to show everyone.
These later prospects are very dangerous, particularly in a refereeing context as actively working on ones "Legacy" of refereeing can lead to the exercise of that extreme ego I referred to above.
As I reflect on a number of things for 2017, personal, professional, and soccer related, I have (re)discovered a number of "life's little truisms" related to this use of ego.
- Don't ever believe your own press;
- You're not as good as you think you are;
- Even if you are pretty good, you can get better;
- Even if you are really good, there is always someone better.
I can say from experience I have fallen into this trap of "I'm good enough" and paid dearly for it at times in my personal, professional, and refereeing lives. In my current role as referee coach I can also say I am seeing this inappropriate use of ego played out again and again in fields across the United States. Not just from referees, but from players, coaches, parents, and administrators as well. (Not being paid to serve in a role is not an excuse for being a total f*k up at it.)
As we collectively enter 2017, ask yourself what you can do to get better. Become a student of the thing you want to achieve and quietly put in the work.
It is one of the great paradoxes of refereeing IMHO, to really get THAT good, to be one of the best on the world stage, you have to completely tear yourself down and do the bitter work on the field and off. Take your lumps and learn from each and every one.
At the end of this ride you may be surprised that one day, folks may recognize you as really good, maybe even one of the very best. One to be remembered for all time. To get there though ... and here is the paradox ... you have to leave your ego on the touchline and work to be forgotten every match you do.
It is in this work to be forgotten, you may be forever remembered as one of the very best.
Happy 2017 and thanks to all for your steadfast support of Kicking Back.