You may have heard…Peyton Manning retired from professional football this last week. Hold on…I can hear the collective ‘sighs’ out there. Not another Peyton Manning article! Look, I get it. His career and his retirement has been covered, debated, talked, and written about (albeit, very deservingly in my opinion) thoroughly this entire week. I promise this is not another sports article about Peyton Manning’s greatness or arguing his place in NFL history. I’m not qualified to compete with the likes of ESPN, Sports Illustrated or the multitude of other sports outlets out there on this anyways. Besides, I don’t want this to be about football or sports. Instead, I want to share why I feel nothing but respect, admiration, and envy towards Peyton Manning. And just like this blog post, my feelings of respect, admiration, and envy has absolutely nothing to do with football. Take everything away. Take away all his money, fame, record breaking statistics, MVP’s, and his super Bowl trophies. Take it all away, and still….I Want What Peyton Manning Has.
I don’t know if you are a football fan or not. Maybe you see Peyton Manning as this transcendent, once in a lifetime, hall of fame quarterback. Or you might recognize him as that goofy guy from Saturday Night Live, or the Papa John’s pizza guy. Or maybe you hate football, and don’t even know who’s who between Peyton, Eli, or Tom Brady. However it may be, I want to play a game where, for a moment, we all forget everything we recognize, or don’t, about Peyton Manning. I want to play a hypothetical let’s pretend game that is much easier to do in this blog-world of typing words on a keyboard. Let’s pretend we can collect everything that Peyton Manning has ever earned in his career , and take it all away! Some Peyton Manning haters will say he didn’t deserve or earn all of that stuff anyways – so this game may be easier to play for some than others. But again, that’s a debate for another time and place because…this is still not a football article!
So we are pretending he has no money or fame, he has no statistics documenting the history of his greatness, and his trophy case is totally bare. Ok, so what’s left? Well even with all those things gone, there is something that Peyton Manning has left that is incredibly valuable and desirable to me. And I am envious and jealous that he has it. And if I could, I would kidnap Peyton Manning, tie him up and demand he give it to me. He has something that I would consider trading my first born son for (don’t tell Larry!). But this would all be a futile effort. Because even if his something was tangible and I could get my hands on it, it would be entirely useless to me. I can’t do anything with Peyton Manning’s something. It is something that is totally unique to him.
If you have watched his retirement press conference (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do) Peyton Manning shares with the world, very raw and eloquently, in his own words what it was that made him ‘tick’. He tells the world what it was that drove him, motivated him, and kept him going and wanting everyday. His unique something was his total “reverence for this game” and that he can walk away at peace knowing without a doubt that “there was no one who could out prepare me”. (Video of this speech can be found at the bottom of this post – and these comments start at about the 10:38 mark and go to about 11:17).
So is this what I want? I want his reverence (I had to look up the definition of reverence, basically it is a deep feeling of respect or awe) for football? Do I want to be the most prepared professional football player out there? Is this the something of Peyton Manning that I want so badly? No, not really. Although it would be incredibly cool to be a Super Bowl winning quarterback, I have about the same desire (and ability) to be a professional athlete as I did to be an architect.
What I want, and what I respect, admire and am so envious of, is that Peyton Manning simply found it! And that he has the self awareness to know what it is that’s unique about him that sets him apart from everyone else. His thing that makes him ‘tick’, and knowing this to inspire his actions day in and day out! I think a number of people in his shoes would just be content being a professional athlete making the ridiculous amounts of money and lavishing in the fame and notoriety. But Peyton Manning is clearly a different breed. Because he found his something that pushes him every single day, that makes his ‘job’ not a job, that makes him want to work and come back from a broken neck…so he can be chased around by line-ups of freakish 300 pound men!? He found his something…and I am jealous and envious that he found it.
I Want What Peyton Manning Has. I want the simple fact of knowing what that thing is that gives you that drive, motivation, and passion to be great and unique. I have never met him, and I don’t know him beyond what I have seen on TV or read about him. But my guess is that Peyton Manning never set out to grow and build-up his bank account, his statistics, or his trophy case. I bet he never set out to get multiple endorsements or gain celebrity status. Instead, I bet what drove him, what motivated him to push his body physically, and to put in all those relentless and obsessive hours, was to grow, build-up and honour this unique something that makes him ‘tick’. And because of that, everything else, the money, fame, commercials and TV, just came…and he genuinely appears incredibly thankful and humbled because of it.
I believe there is something very powerful in knowing what it is that makes you ‘tick’. For Peyton Manning it was that dedication and pride he took in knowing he could not be out prepared by any other player or even coach on the teams he played on or against. And its easy to think that since it worked for him, that someone else is going to be able to replicate his success by doing (or saying) the same thing. Maybe it’s possible. But I doubt it. That was Peyton Manning’s own unique something. There is so much time and energy spent on comparing, wishing, and hoping that we could be the ‘next’ great thing. And we see all these crazy success stories, Peyton Manning, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg etc. and we quietly say to ourselves ‘if only I had what they had’, or ‘if only I could come up with the next iPhone, Facebook, or whatever…’ Just do what they did, right? That sounds great, but I don’t think it works out very often.
So what sets these seemingly extra-ordinary people, and the many others like them, apart? What is it that allows them to take their ‘if only’s’, and turn them into reality? I wish I had an easy answer. But I think there is something to say about uniqueness. Everyone has their own unique story, experiences, and viewpoint of the world. Is this what defines and shapes that unique ‘tick’ or something that these wildly successful people have that I don’t? They all must have something about them. And I want it too. Well the thing is, I won’t ever have the same unique story as Peyton Manning. I certainly didn’t have the same life experiences as Steve Jobs, And my viewpoint of the world is likely much different than Mark Zuckerberg’s. But they all had something…and I want it too. It must come down to everyone’s own uniqueness. Is it that simple?
To end, I will share another sentence from Peyton Manning’s retirement speech as he looks towards what is next for him. “I’m totally convinced that the end of my football career is just the beginning of something I haven’t even discovered yet.”
I’m convinced too. Peyton Manning just has to find his next own unique something. I think he will. And I think I can find mine too.
Thanks for reading.