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The Challenge of Time

Sharing some words of encouragement I sent to a friend whose department was just abolished. Enjoy.

Dear xxx,

I just heard the news. A few words for you to digest when you’re clear headed.

As a younger man, I was a pretty good basketball player. I became captain of my college basketball team and the truth was we were never really that good. We lost a lot of games which became very depressing. And, I just hated losing.

After every loss, my teammates would fight with each other with one person always trying to shift the blame to someone else. I remember I kept saying to them that somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. Just don't fight about it. Let’s just try and get better. But, we didn’t get better.

After losing yet another game, I remember one of the parents coming up to me and saying: ‘it’s not whether you win or lose that counts, it’s how you play the game’. I remember thinking that the person who said that probably lost a lot too.

To win, I trained and trained to get better and I did get a lot better over time. But, for a team to win it has to be a team. You need talent, training, team work, and a mindset of winning and we lacked some combination of these things that no one person could fix.

I remember one time when we lost a close game after we made an incredible come back, I played so well, but we still lost. My coach approached me after the game, put his hands on my shoulder and said “Good effort Khaled, at least we didn't lose the game today; we just ran out of time”.

This can happen in life, you just run out of time.

To better make the point, and in case you don’t know baseball, a good life analogy can actually come from this sport, and car racing too. In baseball there are three possible outcomes: you can win, you can lose, or it can rain. In car racing there are also three possible outcomes too: you win some, lose some, or wreck some. It turns out that life actually mirrors both of these sports. You win some, lose some, or it can rain. And, when it rains there is a much higher probability that a wreck, will happen, has happened, or will test you in ways you’ve never been tested before.

You see, in sports, you win when you outscore somebody, and you lose when you're outscored. In life, you can lose when you outscore someone and you can win when you're outscored.

Winning or losing isn’t that big a deal in the final analysis. After all, the word 'success' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by the word ‘failure’. The term success is relative and new opportunity is all about what you do with it before you run out of time.

What happened to you yesterday is not yours to recover, but tomorrow is yours to win or lose. Like all of us who have been through things like this before, you must learn to accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite optimism.

Right now, the only thing you can do is fight. Like I’m sure you’ve done before, you have to fight hard like every other damn time.

I know you’re disappointed, but you can never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun. Winning is fun, and while losing is disappointing, the challenge to bounce back is ultimately fun too. But, before you can win or lose a second time, stud or dud, hero or zero, you will have to wait for your next chance like everyone else. The waiting for your next chance will challenge you for sure.

The only life lesson to be learned here is that you just ran out of time. Wait for your next chance, and I hope when it happens, time in round two will be on your side.

I’m here if you need me.

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