Lessons from the NFL: Don’t Be Afraid to Get in the Game

Andrew Luck: An undaunted rookie

Often I look at the success of my favourite writers, the legends who have come before me, and I get discouraged. Their massive, loyal cult-like followings intimidate me. I marvel at how perfectly these writers craft their sentences, their chapters, their stories, their ideas. It hurts to compare their superior voices to my own.

Since I started taking my writing seriously, this inferiority feeling of mine had started to grow. And to this day, the self-doubt, the self-defeating thoughts still haunt me—Who am I to call myself a writer? Who am I to start a blog? Have I anything to say? Why would people read my words when they can get lost in Hemingway’s pithy style or Malcolm Gladwell’s intellectual adventures?

The World Welcomes New Comers

And then last Sunday, I had a realization. It came as I watched some season-opening football. Did you catch any of the games? There were a slew of starting rookie quarterbacks.

Some of them played well, others poorly. And after watching these rooks play, it got me thinking about how important these “new comers” are to the game. Regardless of how many stars have had great careers and have shattered records and have left their marks on the hearts of fans, there’ll always be a need for fresher, younger players. Enter the rookies.

Out with the old, in with the new, so to speak.

An Undaunted Rookie

Here’s an example: Peyton Manning, the superstar who quarterbacked the Colts his entire career, was released this offseason so that the team could draft Andrew Luck, a young prodigy. It’s amazing to me how quickly the organization decided to part ways with a proven legend to get their claws on an unproven rookie. Such a move proves how valuable to the world young talent is, and how quickly a superstar can shrivel into old news.

Another thing that amazes me is how well Andrew Luck, the rookie, has handled the pressure of stepping into such a great man’s shoes. As I watched Luck pass for his first touchdown against a stout Bears defense, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Why does this rookie have so much confidence? Doesn’t he have an ounce of self-doubt, a shred of nagging uncertainty that maybe he isn’t ready for the insanely fast-paced NFL?

Whether Luck has these self-doubts or not, he trucks onward. Maybe in the back of his head there’s a shrilly voice telling him he’s going to let down millions of fans, fans who expect him to pick up where Manning left off—but he still shows up to the pitch ready to play ball.

This brings me back to my original point: there’ll always be a need for fresher, younger players. And these new guys are welcomed to the scene. 

Andrew Luck isn’t bullying his way into the spotlight; the world is embracing him with open arms, ready to see what he’s got. We’ve seen Peyton Manning carve up defenses, now we want to see Luck do it.

“Out with the old, in with the new.”

New Comers to the Art World

This rule also applies to the art world (and to every profession). There’ll always be a need for new painters, new filmmakers, new writers. We love the old artists, but we want to see what’s new, what the young guns can contribute to the domain.

In the art world, people want to see what makes you different, what thoughts you want to communicate, what stories you want to tell. They’re intrigued by your arrival to the scene—because you’re young and fresh and brimming with raw potential, like an Andrew Luck. So there’s no need to paralyze yourself by comparing your talents to the greats’ who have come before you.

The greats are the greats; you are you. So be you and stop doubting yourself.

Strap on your helmet, step up to the pitch and get in the game. The world wants to see what you have to offer. We’ve already tasted Hemingway’s novels and Spielberg’s films and Picasso’s paintings. Now, we want to see your stuff. Be like an Andrew Luck—confident in your unique talents and in what you can contribute.

Don’t deny us your talents; show us your art.


Image by AngieSix (Creative Commons)


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