A letter to Hue Jackson, the Cleveland Browns, and the Fans.

A couple of weekends ago I went to the mall in Provo Utah with my family. While we were sitting down to eat I saw something that instantly surprised me. That feeling you get when you pull $20 out of a coat you haven't worn in months. I saw an older gentleman wearing a Browns hat. I had lived in the Cleveland area for two years and I grew to absolutely love it there, more specifically the people, and what it felt like to be apart of that whole northern Ohio vibe. So, naturally, I got up to go say hi and introduce myself. “ Hey are you from Cleveland?!” I was so excited to talk to someone from Cleveland, and not to mention, someone who was willing to go in public wearing Browns apparel! He proceeded to tell me that he wasn't, but that he just loved the Browns. As a Browns fan myself I didn’t need to question further because, hey, the fact that you can admit to being a fan of a team that is 0–12 earns my respect. A true fan. Without having to ask, he continued to explain his answer“ I grew up loving them because they represented the industrial town of hard working folk and I just love that.” I thought to my self, hey that’s pretty darn cool. This guy is a true fan. Someone that loves the team not because they are winning but because of what they stand for, what they represent. A town, a group of people, a cause. Something deeper than just wins and losses.

I cant remember what day it was but I sat down to browse on ESPN and saw the interview with Coach Jackson and I listened as he said “being 0–12 is probably the hardest thing ever” Anyone that is a human being could tell it was painful and he said it from his heart. Coach Jackson wants more than anything to have his players rewarded for their efforts. To that I just want to say hey man, I’m in your corner. Keep it up. I have listened to people that know him and know how talented Coach Jackson is as they talked about how hard it is to be motivated every week and keep everyone else motivated. That burden gets heavy, very heavy.

Instead of adding to that weight, I wanted to try to add some light and maybe even give some hope and motivation to any who will read what I have to say.

I read a lot these days and I wanted to share a couple thoughts I had that I would share if I were with Hue and the Browns right now.

The Wall

One of my favorite books “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday first came to mind. The title itself derives from the teachings of Marcus Aurelius when he wrote “ The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Meaning that our obstacles will help us and what stands to prevent us from progress, becomes the reason we make progress. A.K.A. The obstacle is the way.

After reading that book, this philosophy has stuck with me and is in my mind every day to remind me of the importance of my perspective and to not let my obstacles deter me, but allow them to strengthen me and propel me on my course. Ryan goes on to say:

When people are: — rude or disrespectful: They underestimate us. A huge advantage. —

conniving: We won’t have to apologize when we make an example out of them. —

critical or question our abilities: Lower expectations are easier to exceed. —

lazy: Makes whatever we accomplish seem all the more admirable.”

I remember these often and use them to fuel me because I often think people underestimate what I am capable of, or may not think I am very valuable in the marketplace. Its up to you to see the advantages that this affords you in going forward.

Compete against yourself

In the book “Start With Why” Simon Sinek tells a story about a boy named Ben. He ran track and at each event he would line up with everyone else but immediately would find himself in last place after the race started. This is because Ben suffers from Cerebral Palsy. In his entire high school career he has never won a race, but that didn’t bother Ben because he wasn’t competing with anyone else, he was competing with himself. The race that normally took about 25 minutes would take Ben 45 minutes to complete. Its safe to say that the effort Ben put into each race far exceeded any of the other runners due to his extremely debilitating physical symptoms. Yet, Ben raced faithfully, time and time again. While Ben’s determination is certainly inspiring there is another lesson that is much deeper that we learn from him.

When all of the other runners finish the race they would run to Ben and help him finish the race. When he would fall, the runners who had already finished their race would pick him up. Ben is the only runner that would have hundreds of runners following him to help him and support him. While this story brought me to tears, it taught me a great and invaluable lesson.

“When you compete everyone else no one wants to help you, but when you compete against yourself everyone wants to help you.”

I am certainly not suggesting that winning is not important, because it is. I believe there is a lesson learned here that gets to the very heart of winning. I believe in Ben’s mind he never lost, he never lost because he was always giving it his all. He never worried about the competition, he only worried about pushing himself to his absolute limit. I believe that at the very core of winning is the idea that winners compete against them-self and not others.

It goes right along with “winners focus on winning and losers focus on winners” Once your eyes and mind are on anyone other than yourself, you have already lost. As a fierce competitor myself I wish I had learned that lesson long ago.

Ill finish from one more from Ryan Holiday. “We need to forget other people’s validation and external markers of success. Warren Buffett has advised keeping an inner scorecard versus the external one. Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of — that’s the metric to measure yourself against.”

Measure yourself against your potential, not external sources, keep an inner scorecard. Work to achieve your potential. Nobody can define that but yourself, so don’t let them. It up to each of us to prove our worth, our potential, our value, and what we are capable of becoming. When we give others the power to determine what we can become, we might as well stop trying.

Keep fighting. Remember, “When people are: — rude or disrespectful: They underestimate us. A huge advantage. — conniving: We won’t have to apologize when we make an example out of them. — critical or question our abilities: Lower expectations are easier to exceed. — lazy: Makes whatever we accomplish seem all the more admirable.”

Coach Jackson keep your head up and keep fighting. Don’t be that person that spends years mining only to give up 5 inches away from striking gold. To the Browns players, how will you let this season effect you? Will it propel you to heights never before seen? Will you use this to make you stronger?or will you let the obstacle deter you from your path?

Best Wishes.

Josh Kartchner