TBOLITNFL (#734)

Those of you who know me personally know that I am an avid sports fan, and more specifically a life-long supporter of an American football franchise known for the past 40 years or so as the New England Patriots.

Which is why it might come as a surprise to you later this afternoon when I watch the Arizona Cardinals game with my eyes glued to the screen, and even more surprising if you notice that I will not so much be watching the game as the exploits of player number 76 – a right guard (like the “Tighthead prop” in rugby) named Deuce Lutui.

Let me explain…

A little more than a month ago, my coach Steve Hardison and I were discussing football in general and the unfortunate demise of a once highly touted quarterback named Matt Leinart.  Blessed with inordinate talent and perhaps cursed with the Hollywood looks to match, Leinart’s career had never quite lived up to his star billing, and earlier that day it had been revealed that he was being demoted yet again to play backup for another season.

This led us to a discussion of what it takes to bring out the full potential inside ourselves, and ultimately led Hardison to begin making calls to track down Matt Leinart (who neither of us know personally) in hopes of being of service to him by assisting him in seeing what he’s really capable of and what’s been holding him back.

But the universe often has other plans for us, and instead of Matt Leinart, Hardison got hold of one of his teammates – Deuce Lutui.  Deuce explained that Leinart had been traded earlier that day to the Houston Texans, but if Hardison was willing, he’d like to experience whatever it was that Hardison had intended for his former teammate.

A somewhat intense meeting between them ensued, during which it became clear that part of what had made the 385 pound Lutui into the self-proclaimed “Lindsey Lohan” of the NFL was what in Scandanavia is called “janteloven” and Australians call “tall poppy syndrome” – a reluctance to stand out from the crowd lest you be plucked out or have your head (hopefully metaphorically) lopped off.

For Deuce, a native of the island republic of Tonga, this fear-based humility was based in respect for the King of Tonga and the idea that if he demonstrated true greatness, it would in some way be disrespectful to the King.

But what he came to see was that the exact opposite was true – that it was only by playing at his absolute best as a representative of the King and the island of Tonga that he would truly be showing his respect.

Later that evening, he sent Hardison the following email, reprinted here with permission:

 

Subject: TBOLITNFLSept 7, 2010.A few things I wrote down after our session and going on your website.
This has locked my future and has secured my goals
The best in the game!!! The best OL in the NFL!!!
best pro bowler there is!!!! Best at my craft!!!! Best on the team!!!!
Captain!!!!! PAID!!!!!!!!! I AM!!!!!!!!!!
The scary thing is this isn’t enough for me nor good enough
Love you brother I want you to witness this at every game at every
play please let me have you at every game you are able to make. It will
bless my life to know your behind me literally watching my every move!
Again, The best in the game!!! The best OL in the NFL!!!
best pro bowler there is!!!! Best at my craft!!!! Best on the team!!!!
Captain!!!!! PAID!!!!!!!!! I AM!!!!!!!!!!
Ofa atu
TBOLITNFL

Deuce Lutui

Deuce’s declaration of himself as the best offensive lineman in the NFL (TBOLITFL) is neither arrogance nor self-promotion.  It is a statement of commitment and intent – a commitment to who he wants to be in the world and the intention and willingness to take action to make it so.

Over the first four games of the season, Deuce has been ranked the top offensive lineman three times, and despite the struggles of his team has come to national attention for the way he has been playing.  His coach has openly wondered what has come over him, and former teammates have phoned after watching him play on television to find out what his secret is.

His “secret”, not in the sense that he won’t tell but in the sense that people can’t see it until they experience it, is perhaps best summed up in the famous words of author Marianne Williamson in her wonderful book A Return to Love:

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Perhaps my favorite part of the Deuce Lutui story is something that I always tell participants in my Creating the Impossible programs – that as W.H. Murray once said:

“…the minute one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

Through a series of “unforeseen incidents and meetings”, Deuce Lutui will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner this year with a very special guest – the King of Tonga himself.  A few days later, the King will be an honored guest at the Monday Night Football game between the Cardinals and the 49’ers.

Better still, the Deuce Lutui story is still being written day by day in the way he lives his life and honors his commitment. You can follow it online here, and you can even become a fan on Facebook here.

And if you haven’t realized it yet, this tip is nothing to do with a man named Deuce Lutui – it’s all about you.

Who are  you, really? Who would you be willing to declare yourself to be if you weren’t worried that your claiming your birthright would be disrespectful to your King, your family, or your God?

What if the ultimate way to respect those who helped make you who you are was to actually be who you are – not just the human but the being; not just the life but the energy and intelligence behind it?

Have fun, learn heaps, and to quote Marianne Williamson one last time:

“God heard us.  He sent help.  He sent you.”

Ofa Atu (with love),
Michael

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