Jumping into the Fire: Dan Hawkins blogs exclusive to EGC
By: Dan Hawkins
Football is a great microcosm of life and it’s a great preparation of young people for life. You have to # 1 not be afraid of a challenge. You have to be able to appreciate being in the fire and what that brings to your life. There’s a certain vibrancy there.
If we’re afraid to take risks, if we’re afraid of challenge, if we’re afraid of failure, we’ll never truly be all that we can be. I always say that we know this “big boy” football. We know that wins and losses matter; we know that. But how you go about the day to day operation is dramatically different than that.
If I’m a banker and my #1 goal is to make money then I’m missing the point. You have to take stock in the process over the product. You invest yourself emotionally in the process. You know that process is a soul-searching every day of how do we get better, how do we chase excellence, not being afraid of perfection, understanding that we can only get stronger through our mistakes. If we’re so afraid to make a mistake and so afraid to fail, we will never truly grow. It’s much like when you lift weights you’re actually tearing muscle fiber and allowing blood to infuse in there so that muscle can grow. That experience we have in life allows us to grow and that fear of failure keeps so many people from accomplishing the things they can accomplish because the reality is the real true failure is not allowing yourself to jump in the fire.
As we went down to Georgia, it was not about Georgia, it was not about winning the game. It was about chasing perfection and getting better and allowing our emotions and our thoughts to be in a positive light regarding the opportunity in the event. And so many people have said “Well how do you keep it going when you’re 0-3?” “How do you keep it going when you’re 0-4?” Well unfortunately they haven’t seen the other side of the coin. I’ve been where you’re 4-0 and it’s the same exact process. Your marriage doesn’t continue to stay good. You’re not continually a good parent. All those things need reinventing, reworking, fine-tuning and so is the same with a football program.
I was asked at the half-time at the Georgia game if I was happy that we were up 10-0 and I said, “No, I was not.” We should have been up 17-0 or 21-0. It’s not about the score; it’s not about the opponent; it’s not about your record. It’s saying, “Do I have the maturity and the guts and the where-with-all every single day to maximize who I am and continue to judge myself against myself despite the outside influences and opinions?” So many people would think you’re trying to prove something to the world. Well we’re not. We’re trying to prove something to ourselves.
I know those ideals sometimes sound kind of corny in today’s world but I’m very serious about that. We have a team of really great kids that have been through a lot and persevered. We have an entirely new organization from strength coach, trainer, academic people, AD, coaches, President, Chancellor, and those things take time to weave a web of interconnectedness. And our kids are battling, our coaches are battling, and everybody is staying positive and we’re continuing to find ways to improve. We’re really investing in that process. I have been through this in many different situations and in many different places before and have 100% confidence that if you’re willing to take a chance, to take a risk, and not be afraid to fail and have the guts to measure yourself against yourself on a daily basis you know you in the end will be everything you’re capable of being. You’ll have that magnificent, glorious, maximal experience in life, in marriage, in football, in school. I just have ultimate confidence in that.
So we went down to Georgia to express ourselves, to sing our song, to do our dance, to throw ourselves in the fire and we know there are lots of critics, cynics, scoffers and doubters but that’s not what matters. What matters is that person in the mirror and can we look that person in the eye and say hey I was willing to jump in the fire and live with it and learn and grow.
When I looked into Bernard Jackson’s eyes in the locker room after the game, I saw the sparkle. He’s just a kid that has been beat down and deep down inside there’s a vibrant soul and a vibrant life. Last Saturday we became a vehicle for that. That look in his eyes said I’m here and I’m not going away. That was… that’s awesome! That’s awesome for the football game and that’s awesome particularly in his life.