The Game is on the Field
by Jim Stovall

Like many Americans, I spent this past weekend enjoying the football playoffs. I do not remember a time when all the experts seemed to totally agree on which two teams would be in the Super Bowl as much as this year. They had analyzed and reanalyzed all of the statistics surrounding each team, and everyone seemed to agree that Pittsburgh would be playing St. Louis in the Super Bowl. Everyone agreed with the exception of the New England Patriots who defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On paper, the game would clearly have been won by Pittsburgh, but in football, much like in life, the game is not played on paper; the game is played on the field.

I have a great deal of admiration for the New England Patriots as well as anyone in sports or in life who overcomes the odds and proves the fallibility of the experts. It is hard to exceed the odds when they are stacked against you; but sometimes it is even harder to overcome the expectations of those so-called experts.

When we are dealing with our friends, our families, or our coworkers, it is important to realize that rarely do people ever exceed that which is expected of them. We can change our lives and the lives of those around us by simply elevating our level of expectation.

When you trust people to be honest, expect them to be on time, or depend upon them to perform in a satisfactory fashion, they generally do. This is not to say that we should heap our expectations in a risky situation on unproven or unreliable people, but it is important to, nevertheless, always expect the best.

When people do from time to time disappoint us, or when we indeed disappoint ourselves, it is vitally important to separate the performance from the performer. Instead of reinforcing a substandard performance, you must tell yourself, "I am better than that, and this level of performance is beneath me."

A temporary failure or setback can either be the beginning of a new habit or serve as an example of that which we do not want in our lives. As you go through the day today, expect the best of everyone around you and, most importantly, expect the best of yourself.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at

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Copyright 2002 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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