In a world full of instant gratification consistency still wins
I was honored and privileged to be inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame this summer. I was one of six inductees selected for the Class of 2022.
When I reflect on my ten-year career with the New Orleans Saints, all types of memories flood my mind. Everything from the combination of joy and relief I felt when I caught my first TD in 2006. The unique weight and responsibility of winning the first game back in the Superdome in 2006 for the Re-Opening. The instant pain I felt when I broke my collarbone in the season opener in 2011. The pride I felt in helping to bring the first Superbowl to the city of New Orleans and the gulf coast.
As a player, I rarely took the time to reflect. My focus was always on trying to get better. I set an internal standard of excellence, so outside expectations never mattered to me. Recognition was never the goal. Once the bar was set, I competed against myself foe a decade – game by game, season by season.
But receiving this honor created a moment in time to slow down and zoom out. It provided a space to look back on the entirety of my journey — the path from afterthought 7th round pick to record-breaking Superbowl champion. I thought about all the people that played a significant role in my journey, some of them are no longer with me; what it meant to play for the Saints in New Orleans at that moment in time; how far I’ve come to get here.
The recognition also provided a space to do an internal check-in. As I celebrate the success of one phase of my journey, I am actively building the next. Thinking about the transition got me thinking about a few questions:
How does the next phase of your journey end?
What type of impact to you want to make?
How can you translate this success into the next phase?
They say that success leaves clues. Within the answers to these questions lie the next body of work currently under construction. And as I build it out, it’ll be on these three reflections from my Hall of Fame journey:
- Your internal standard should be higher than any external one. When I walk into a business meeting today, sometimes the bar is extremely low. People see a former athlete and are surprised I speak in complete sentences. At the peak of my football career, the expectations of my performance were sky-high. Neither scenario matters because my internal expectations outweigh any external expectations. The internal standard is the compass that leads to your vision.
If sounds like pressure, it is. But the pressure can’t just be focused on results. There has to be a standard of excellence in everything you do. If you approach everything with the standard of internal excellence, you’ll embed accountability that creates progress and winning moments, even amid some setbacks.
- Internal pride > external recognition. Sometimes the recognition never comes, even when you’re deserving. It takes resolve and patience to continue pursuing your vision when it’s lonely and there is no applause.
Stay the course. Believe in your process. Execute it consistently. Take pride in your progress.
Taking pride in your execution will help to break the link between external recognition as a determinant of success. Establishing the link between success and effort allows you to operate in a new paradigm. Your success becomes a function of your effort and growth, not others’ expectations and influences
- An undeniable body of work will outlast a moment in time. A lasting legacy speaks for itself. A flash-in-the-pan moment is always open to interpretation—success over a sustained period becomes an unquestioned legacy to leave behind.
Sustained success is more than producing results — it’s a consistent commitment to excellence. There is a nuance to it. It’s navigating how to show up to and for people as your role changes within the journey. It’s the ability to manufacture performance over time as your abilities and experiences evolve.
Consistency is more than a word or belief. It’s a lifestyle that requires self-awareness. To build a consistent body of work you must know who you are at any given point — whether it’s who you want to be or not. It’s what allows you to make in-the-moment commitments to evolve from today’s version to the version you want to be tomorrow. Focus on those incremental moves –they compound over time. When it’s time to look up and track your progress, you’ll realize the legacy you envisioned leaving behind is closer than ever.