Don’t Give Up

I had a little time at home one evening this week. The kids were all working on various things quietly and with no meetings to plan for and emails to respond to, I turned on ESPN to watch college basketball. As soon as I turned the channel, Jim Valvano’s famous speech at the ESPYs was just starting. Jimmy V, as he was battling cancer, was being awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and in accepting this award gave a speech that many of us are familiar with. This speech (which you can watch below if you have not seen it before) is probably most famous for the famous statement: “don’t give up; don’t ever give up.”

The message of the speech and it’s powerful motto of “don’t give up; don’t ever give up” is used regularly in support of cancer research, but that statement has never been my favorite part of the message. My favorite message comes towards the beginning of the speech where Jimmy V challenges us to do three things every day:

  1. Laugh
  2. Think
  3. Cry

He goes on to say that if we spend some time in laughter with friends, some time alone in thought, and have our emotions move us to tears that is a full day. There is a great deal of wisdom in these three things.

Laughter comes from joy, and joy comes from: time with friends, living out our passions, and spending time in activities that bring fulfillment. Time in thought helps us reflect and grow. As Lou Holtz has been quoted saying “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” Growth requires thought, so keeping thinking or start dying. Finally, letting your emotions move you to tears… Too many times we suppress emotions, or only let our negative emotions show. Finding ways to do things that provide emotions that would move us to tears would take powerful experiences every day, or maybe just a reevaluation of how lucky we are in each of the small things that happen to us each day.

Try to think of days when all three of these things have happened in your life. I am sure your memories bring you to times where you are doing things you are passionate about with people about whom you care deeply. Then compare a day such as that with how you spend a typical day. Do you spend a typical day doing something you are so emotionally involved in, so passionate about that you can laugh, think, and cry each day? Or, think about those with whom we spend majority of our time. Do we let them in enough and open up enough that we can laugh, think, and cry with them each day?

Don't Give Up

What if we did. What if we invested so deeply in our daily tasks, jobs, and people we spend our time with that we connect on this level? What would we need to change to make this happen? Are we working in a profession that provides this level of passion and commitment? Do we connect with people in our lives at this deep of an emotional level?

I know I do not always do these three things on a daily basis. After listening to this speech again this week, I know I am going to make a more concerted effort in the days ahead to find ways to invest in what I do and the people I am around, to see that these three things help fill my days. 

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!

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