So did you see this the other night?
This was one of those “I cannot believe that just happened” moments. Where on a nationally televised event, I just found myself feeling really bad for Kaelin Clay of the Utah Utes.
I mean…really bad.
And as sports often does, it presents a microcosm of what life is like at times. As I was pondering this play that no doubt made the ESPN Top 10, I was considering this in light of leadership and relationships because there are some stellar lessons from this single play on the field.
Finishing well…well, it really does matter
The play itself was a beautiful 79-yard apparent touchdown pass to an open and lightning-fast Kaelin Clay.
The offensive line protected the quarterback.
Kaelin shook off his defender.
He caught the pass.
He had an open lane to the end zone.
And it was the Oregon Ducks, not the Utah Utes, that came away with seven points.
Finishing well is so critical in our leadership and our influence. How did I close a conversation with someone who looked to me for guidance? With frustration? How did I lead in a project or meeting? With integrity…except that one time…? How did I choose to use my influence? For personal gain and personal agenda?
Yes, finishing well in life is also important, but we get 100 ripe opportunities every day to finish strong and leave an impression that has the sweet fragrance of the Gospel as opposed to the smell of my own dreams, wishes, and desires.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
II Corinthians 2:14
The little things…they matter too
The pass play was really a pretty thing to watch unfold, and for 78 yards of it things were going the Utes’ way. It was the last three feet in which Clay let the ball go that proved to be most costly.
In other words, almost 99% of the play was picture perfect, but not taking care of that last 1% became a 14-point turnaround.
In our harried lives, we fail to have that transparent conversation with another person and the relationship continues sliding. We fail to realize that being productive and organized is a way in which to live out the Gospel of being able to serve others. In our disorganized state we miss opportunities to “come along side.”
In the end, all the blocking, the great catch, the amazing speed, all the early celebrations could not overcome the fact that the football was dropped at the 1-yard line instead of being handed to the referee in the end zone. One yard – one half of a second. The details matter.
Your response…it matters just as much
The play itself will provide plenty of water-cooler talk in offices around the nation. But it was what I read the next day that caught me most. Kaelin, sitting teary-eyed before the reporters after the game, owned it:
“I know how important points are, especially against a team like this,” Clay said, choking in between his words. “I take full responsibility for what happened tonight. I will take the criticism and the blame. It was just one of those things. I got excited and let the moment just get away from me. Again, I take full responsibility for this.”
Classy response – because it does matter. No deferring of responsibility, no excuses. He just owned it. And because of that, I believe he will be coached through this and received back by the Utah faithful.
Yes, the big decisions and the big picture are both essential and far-reaching in our lives and the lives of others. But it is what is often perceived as inconsequential, insignificant, or optional, that can truly turn our game around.
Finish well. Pay attention to the small things. Own it.
And at the end of your day, remember that is much more than just a football game.