I’m going to stray from my normal topics to hop up on my soapbox here for a moment in this newsletter.
I’m a big Dallas Stars fan; this shouldn’t come as news to anyone that has read my writing. A few weeks ago, the Stars clinched their first playoff berth since 2016, and a giant sigh of relief was released by the entire fan base.
Whether they get bounced from the playoffs in the first round or win the Stanley Cup, this was a big step forward for a team that has consistently found ways to lose ground in the final weeks of the season and miss the playoffs the last few years.
After the clinching win, Stars Captain Jamie Benn had this to say about making the playoffs:
“Feels good. Put in a lot of hard work… and we definitely deserve to be in the Playoffs. So, it was nice to get it done, and get it clinched here at home in front of our fans.”
This quote has stuck in my brain, even two weeks later.
I like Jamie Benn a lot. He’s a physical and skilled player that other teams don’t like facing. He’s a “lead by example” type Captain, instead of a big rah-rah guy. I can appreciate that. I was at the game final game of the 2015 season when he won the Art Ross Trophy, it was incredible.
But he lost me the minute he used the word “deserve”.
Why did this bother me so much? Because “deserve” doesn’t factor into success. It just doesn’t. I have trouble with the word “deserve” for the same reason I have a problem with a lot of society today. It’s such an entitled, arrogant word.
And, while Jamie Benn is a millennial, I don’t pin this on one generation like so many of my peers, but on society as a whole that has grown this sense of entitlement. You see it everywhere from older people yelling at waiters and waitresses doing their jobs, to online chat boards.
Millions of good people out there don’t “deserve” to be diagnosed with terrible, terminal diseases or die in horrific accidents. But they are and they do. We’ve all worked with people that are incompetent, or immoral, and don’t “deserve” the position they’ve fallen upwards into in life. But they did.
The word “deserve” makes us all feel better. It gives us a moral victory when we lose, and can give us place to improve from when we win. But what we deserve has nothing to do with what we get.
This lesson is totally lost in a world in which whether people “deserve” to win and lose is more important than the actual result.
At the end of the day, you did enough to overcome the multitude of factors holding you back and succeed, or you didn’t. History doesn’t remember those that “deserved” to make the playoffs, or win the Stanley Cup. It remembers those that actually do it. Regardless of which official blew a call, or which player got hurt. Who. Won. The. Games.
As I talked this article through with my Director of Operations (a millennial) , he mentioned to me an episode of Star Trek, in which Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard admonishes a crewmember after obsessing over a loss in a game. In the episode, Stewart’s Picard tells his crewmember that “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.”
This isn’t a moral argument. As I noted earlier, people that succeed are not good, and people that fail are not bad. In fact, the common jump between those things is part of why I wanted to write this article. Failure is part of life, even when you don’t “deserve” to fail.
It has been my philosophy that if you fail, and we all will, we shouldn’t take the moral victory that we “deserved” to win because we made no errors. It doesn’t matter. Review the tape, get up, gut up, dust yourself off, and get ready for the next attempt.
Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I win, or I learn.”
And this is the message I want to leave you with. The Stars didn’t get into the playoffs because they “deserved” to. They got in because they’ve learned from mistakes they’ve made the last few years and did what they needed to do to get over the hump.
Now, everyone get off my lawn, and GO STARS!