• Scott Hatley

Staying in the Game: Don't Give Up!

When you become more than a casual fan of a sport, you may start to notice many of the little things happening which you might not have previously seen. There is always much more strategy taking place than it may initially appear—coaches directing players. Teammates pushing each other. All united around the same goal of winning the game.

Zeroing in on the game further, it’s evident some players have a stronger will and heart for victory than others. For some, it’s their abilities setting them apart from others. For most, however, it’s their desire. These athletes distinguish themselves by their focus on winning at all costs, even to the point of sacrificing their own body and physical wellbeing to continue their pursuit of victory.

When the game is on the line, elite athletes want and expect to be on the field of play no matter what. A tough play leading to injury isn’t enough to keep them away. In fact, at that moment, if you watch closely, you might notice their coach attempting to take them out of the game to regroup and recover. At times, it’s easier said than done as the player doesn't want to be taken out. They want to stay in the game. They want to continue competing and willing their team to victory. Their expectation is to be on the field of play no matter what.

It’s a reason why famous quotes such as, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” often attributed to legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, have become part of sports folklore.

Very few of us are elite athletes who can relate to these experiences, and we aren’t all wired with this type of competitiveness either. Regardless, the picture of “Staying in the Game” is a great metaphor for sport, and more importantly, life. It’s why INCIGHT has selected this sports-oriented statement as the theme of our annual fundraising Gala. We are continuing to compete in the game in spite of significant obstacles and challenges.

It’s become too easy in life for us all to give up. To give up on ourselves, our dreams, our business, our family and friends or even those we don’t know, who we deem as unworthy—or, stated another way, those deemed not worth the effort or investment. Of course, this word “unworthy” has a great deal of meaning and context behind it. This could be your annoying neighbor, your friend dealing with addiction, your family member choosing a life on the streets, someone who you disagree with politically or even a colleague who is different from you.

It’s easy to give up because not giving up is hard work. It requires effort. It requires growth and change. It requires stick-to-it-ness and persistence. And, many times, staying in the game requires really hard work. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and sometimes it’s

messy.

There has been a lot to give up on in the last few years, both personally and professionally, for so many of us. Stuff has not gone as expected. Plans have changed more times than we can count. People have changed their priorities in life. The path has had many turns with very windy roads. The same has been true for INCIGHT the last two years. We have struggled at times. We have lost team members. We have had to work a little harder and increase our effort. We have needed to do things differently, including taking time to plan for a new trajectory for the organization.

As an organization and team, INCIGHT has done what it takes to “Stay in the Game” and set ourselves up for continuing to expect great contributions with people experiencing disabilities by changing hearts and minds, leveraging obstacles and unlocking potential.

We know those experiencing disabilities have been overlooked and not expected to reach their potential or succeed at the same level as their peers. If our work is to elevate this population and their achievements in society, if we expect them to keep fighting for what they want in life, if we expect them to keep staying in the game, then INCIGHT should sure as heck do the same thing. We cannot give up. We must set the tone and continue being a thought leader for greater change. We must have the right attitude and mindset, and live out our values.

It hasn’t been easy in any way, but you can expect INCIGHT will continue staying in the game. We developed a new game plan, complete with a new vision, mission and values. We believe this plan gives us the best chance of winning the game. While winning a single game isn’t the ultimate measure of success, creating a winning culture is. INCIGHT wants to win and be successful. We want to leverage around the future obstacles we will surely face. We want those we serve to win and be successful. We don’t want their potential to be locked up. We want to break stigma and unlock potential when that’s what’s needed.

We also want to create a cultural revolution, non-violent of course, where expectations are the norm and disability is not a divider for what is possible for achievement in life. Anyone can achieve anything they want in life if they are willing to work for it. They just need the opportunity to be able to go after it. When you have the opportunity, it’s harder to not give up.

The late college basketball coach Jim Valvano said it best months before losing his battle with cancer. He urged the audience at the 1993 ESPY awards, “Don't give up...Don’t ever give up!” Need some extra inspiration for staying in the game? Do a search for Valvano’s famous speech. You won’t be disappointed!

So much has happened for all of us, and life always has a way of bringing more and more our way. Still, we must keep our eye on the target, or the proverbial prize, take some inspiration from Coach Valvano and stay in the game.


1https://www.si.com/college/ncstate/college/ncstate/basketball/jimmy-v-espy-speech

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