Even though you probably don’t want to hear this, failure will be part of your career and personal life. But you should never give up. Never accept less than your maximum effort. Whatever the task may be, keep doing that until it becomes second nature. And then do it some more. Be the hardest worker and you will eventually succeed.
During my football career in high school, giving up was never an option. I knew college scouts were looking at me to see what I could do on the football field. It was the second play of the game—the last play of my senior year—I felt a specific pain that I have become accustomed to and knew immediately that I separated my shoulder. There was no time for the now-all-too-familiar pattern of triage-rehab-return.
It was my senior year and I knew that everything was on the line, it was now or never. I decided to play through the excruciating pain and resulting limitations. Our team was having a good year and we had a shot to make the playoffs. I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity or let my team or my dad down by not playing. I wasn’t about to let a little thing like my shoulder popping out of the socket every game hold me back.
Since there wasn’t an opportunity for the surgery and rehab I needed, the trainers turned to what they thought was the next best solution: tape. Not quite duct tape, but the philosophy was basically the same. When the tape failed and my shoulder popped out of its socket, the trainers would pop it back in and put me back on the field. If it popped out again, they just popped it right back in.
Although I never stopped fighting—and I’m proud to say I more than held my own for a one-armed man—the injury was too much for me to put on the sort of season-long demonstration I knew I was capable of; the kind of show that would have drawn scholarship offers from Division I programs that I had wanted to be part of since the very first time I had ever put on pads.
The collegiate interest in me cooled. Despite all of my dedication hard work—and if I’m choosing honesty over modesty—all of my God-given talents, no one was interested. I was willing to make the necessary concessions that came in accepting that my plans of playing for a major Division I football powerhouse had been derailed, but I refused to accept that these results were final or to surrender my fate to any other force beyond my own determination.
I don’t care what your goal is, whether that’s on the playing field or in the boardroom. If your goal is big enough to sustain you for a lifetime, then there will certainly be times when you fall short. Never give up.
About Steve Jones
Steve Jones achieved the American Dream through perseverance, hard work, and adaptability. He is the current CEO of Allied Universal, one of the world’s top security and facility services companies in North America with revenues exceeding $7.1 billion. He is the author of the entrepreneur book “No Off Season: The Constant Pursuit of More.”