If you weren’t inspired by the performance of UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, your pulse might be on vacation. His left hand was amputated at the age of four due to a prenatal condition which prevented his fingers from fully forming. Griffin used a prosthetic hand while pumping out 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press. He also ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering time of 4.38 seconds. It was the fastest time for a linebacker since 2003.
Many people were moved by the incredible story. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips tweeted, “What an inspiration! Congrats – you are a great role model.” Former Notre Dame and 49ers defensive lineman Ian Williams tweeted, “Everyone please remove can’t from your vocabulary!!”
The shot of Griffin catching a pass during drills was remarkable. Griffin isn’t Odell Beckham Jr. He’s a defensive player straight out of college with one hand. However, Griffin possesses a unique mindset — he approaches football without dwelling on deficiencies. Instead, he concentrates on maximizing his strengths and opportunities.
This mindset can lead to great success in any field, especially sports radio. Maximizing strengths is incredibly important, yet often unattained. It’s common for us to think about the things we don’t have instead of actually utilizing the skills and opportunities we do.
Plenty of on-air hosts want a better shift or more hours. What goes along with that desire is a tendency to half-heartedly approach the current opportunity. Jack Harbaugh, the father of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, used to tell his sons to “attack every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” He didn’t say to approach each day with a lack of passion unless everything is exactly how you want it.
Where would Shaquem Griffin be if he wasted time moping around due to missing a left hand? He might not be in a football uniform to begin with. Griffin most likely wouldn’t have been named Defensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl following the 2017 season. I doubt Griffin would’ve been the toast of the 2018 combine if he only fixated on what he lacked instead of what he’s been blessed with.
What if Griffin went through the motions at UCF because he wanted to play for a powerhouse like Alabama? Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s what happens every day when a disgruntled host underperforms while drooling over a better gig. Maximize opportunities and there will always be more. Do the opposite and become even more unfamiliar with the word “promotion.”
I’m a perfectionist. It can go one of two ways when you’re wired like this. You can achieve great things as a result of striving to be better, or you can become dejected while only focusing on failures. There isn’t anything wrong with striving for perfection, but the pursuit has to include a positive outlook. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you only dwell on the negative.
My mom has said that she might have had to wait all day to find something to praise her kids for, but she made a big deal out of it when she finally got the chance. I’m sure it was my sister who was hard to praise, not me of course, her perfect little angel. Positivity and praise both feel great. That doesn’t go away when you become an adult. Both are needed — you just can’t wait on the world to deliver it.
There are many players like Shaquem Griffin that are highly criticized. They’re told any number of things — too slow, too short, too weak, too limited. If Griffin bought into the idea of being too limited because he doesn’t have a hand, he wouldn’t enjoy the same amount of success. There is a lot of negativity in this world. The one thing controllable is whether you focus more on your strengths or limitations. It’s pretty obvious which one Shaquem Griffin has centered on.
Think of rap music for a minute. Rap music gets every last cent out of a hit song by having different versions and remixes. You might hear five variations of the same song. That’s the way we need to be with our opportunities and talents — get every single drop out of the chances we get and the skills we’ve been given.
Shaquem Griffin’s performance at the combine is inspiring because it showed qualities that we all desire to possess — determination, perseverance, tenacity, will. It’s the ability of Griffin to disregard his limitations and focus on the positive. He showed that we should remove can’t from our vocabulary — that we should maximize our strengths and resist a negative mindset.
There’s a famous quote from Bobby Jones; “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears.” Shaquem Griffin showed that life is also played within the same space.