The Unforgiving Minute

Competition has never really been natural to me; I’d rather cooperatively achieve than win. I am fully aware though, in some instances winning or losing are the only options available, and in those circumstances, I go for the W. However, I’m amazed by people who are truly winners. To be fair, I’m amazed by losers too, just not at all impressed by them. Winners have a mindset that I simply don’t have, but I wish I did sometimes. I know some people may be thinking “Doug, you’re successful, you’re winning” and that is true, but I’m not a winner.

blue athletic field
Photo by Mateusz Dach on

Kobe Bryant was a winner, Floyd Mayweather is a winner, my sister is a winner. Unlike me, for winners, success is simply a byproduct of the work they put in because of their desire to master their respective crafts. For me, my success is a product of not wanting to fail. I have never sought out greatness in anything that I’ve done, with the exception of fatherhood. Even that comes with an asterisk, because I’m not researching anything to improve or better my methods, I’m doing the best I can with my natural abilities. That’s what I’ve done my entire life. This may come as a surprise to some people, but I don’t feel like I’ve worked hard for anything. I’ve never studied, before college I rarely turned in homework, in basketball I don’t argue calls or talk trash. I just do my thing and accept the outcome.

Odd Perspectives

When my sister was in school (every level) she used to lock into whatever subject she was taking. She studied, did homework and participated in extracurricular activities in some of the best scholastic institutions in the country. Somehow, she still found time to have a personal life and fun. I feel like she did enough homework and studying for the both of us. At the time I would be the demon upon her left shoulder saying “tone it down with all this effort” because it seemed to me to be too much for anybody to work this hard. Not to mention, I never did any of this stuff and my grades matched my effort, except on tests…I used to ace those, which annoyed my sister. I’m of the belief that my sister could have dialed it down 10 notches and still gotten better grades than me, and she believes if I put in half the effort she did, I would have done better. The world will never know.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute, with sixty seconds of distance run

Rudyard Kipling

What I know now is “why” the world will never know. She’s a winner and I’m not. Mastering the craft is what she does and doing enough to achieve my goal is what I do. My attention is scattered, and I thrive in chaotic environments somehow. She on the other hand is focused and capable of truly focusing on more than one thing while also getting the details right. Where I’ll get the gist, she just gets it. I’m going to pause to thank our parents for somehow getting it right with two totally different types of kids. With the benefit of hindsight, I recognize it wasn’t easy with either of us, but at the time, it seemed to me that my sister was easier to deal with. Now that I’m grown, I know I was way easier.

person running on track
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

I was easier because raising a winner is difficult. It is clear that their drive is important to them. My sister was a scholar AND she ran track, both of which are hard as hell. I don’t particularly care for track and field events, but I understand how much work goes into being good at them. The mental and physical focus required to just do it is tough to achieve…but to also be good at it is even harder. Guess who had to support all this talent, wasn’t me, I was saying chill. My parents were supporting these all-day track events, the disappointment she would have with getting a B, as well as the frustration in my seemingly non-existent curfew while she had to be in by midnight, and she’s 3 years older. She needed the amount of structure they gave her because it possibly aided in her will to prove that she deserved additional freedom. 


I gained more from observing her as a kid than she could gain from observing me. No one strives to be an underachiever, especially winners. Laziness is anathema to a winner, but she never really got on me about being lazy. Possibly because I was annoying her in other ways, making advice to get my shit together less likely. I tried focusing and doing some of the stuff she did for a couple weeks in my senior year of high school. I did and turned in homework, I read stuff a second time and I took notes in my classes, but when the grades came I was over confident and got a few B’s and some C’s. This made me say “not worth it” because I missed out on a few social things for a C+ average. At the time I would rather do all the things I want and average a C than miss everything and get a B. Granted, my all out effort was probably an hour, 90 minutes tops of work outside of school.

I watched this video about Kobe Bryant and it made me think of my sister. Deep down I know she’s a competitor and that has inspired me to be more competitive, but no matter what, I will never be able to compete like she can. Competition motivates her to be even better, go even harder to perfect the details that much more than what she has already conditioned herself for. At my most competitive moment I can only tap into this in spurts, and it truly depends on how much I care about the situation to begin with. I’m content with saying “you got me” in competition as long as the person is not rude or disrespectful about winning. After proving my point I may feel like “I should do this more often” but reality sets in that it’s not my nature to do so. 

More than a gift

One would think that my sister is this hyper competitive genius, but really, she’s just a winner. She now has two kids, and she does all kinds of stuff with them. They’re both in sports and activities that she has to take them to. In addition to being really damn good at her job, she’s also making sure they can live similar to her if they so desire. She has prepared for this lifestyle for years and from the outside looking in, it seems like such a natural thing that one would never know how much work she’s doing. She makes it look easy, so much so, I tried having my daughter in multiple things when it was just the two of us and I would feel mentally drained, though I never showed it. Some said I made that look easy too, but my daughter is just really easy to raise.

Yours is the Earth and everything in it

Rudyard Kipling

Some people will never know what it means to “fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run”. Count me in that group of some people. I will say though, if you are fortunate enough to have someone around you that does this, watch them. It’s quite the sight to see when someone puts consistent, intentional work into the things they do for the purpose of being good at what they do, not for money or accolades. The money and accolades come, but that isn’t their focus. In addition to my natural personality, this understanding is why I’m humble. At this point, I know that I am gifted, but I fully understand that I can easily be outdone by someone that puts the time and effort into being great, simply because they want to be great. 

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