Last night I watched my favorite team play football. Sort of.
The Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs were featured on Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network. Normally I would be watching it on TV, but since we just downsized our cable and now can’t get the NFL Network, I had to resort to my usual compromise: watching the stats on nfl.com. My wife and my daughter went to bed early, and it was just me in my easy chair–and football.
I know what you’re thinking. The Oakland Raiders have struggled for a few years–ok, since 2002–and this year is the worst one. Coming into the game, they were winless: 0-10. People were talking about them having an 0-16 season. But I have been a Raiders fan since I was 10, and I wasn’t about to give up now.
The Kansas City Chiefs, on the other hand, have won five in a row, including stomping the Denver Broncos, who last year played in the Super Bowl (where they were stomped by the Seattle Seahawks). No one expected the Raiders to win. Many expected it to be a rout.
But after a terrific struggle, the Raiders pulled out their first win. You would think they’d just won the Super Bowl. Everyone was ecstatic in Oakland, including the 30,000 fans who sat through pouring rain to see the spectacle.
Winning is great. Losing is not. The Raiders and their fans have had to endure many weeks of losing this year. But this one win has told them something. They can beat a playoff caliber team if they focus and try harder. It’s a matter of wanting it so badly you’re willing to do whatever it takes to win.
I have a new book coming out in little more than a week, and I feel like it is thirty minutes before game time. Regardless of how well I prepare, of how well I think I do, my victory or defeat will be determined by those who buy my book–or decide not to. I am hostage to reviews. I am a victim to the marketplace.
So what do I do if the book fails, if people decide that I’ve been wasting my time? If you are a one-hit wonder, you fold up your tent and walk home.
But if you are in it for the long haul, if you realize that a season is made up of 16 games–not one–then you will put your failures behind you. Whether you win or lose the game is not what’s important.
It’s what you do next.