Monday, March 28, 2011
A key to Governor Palin's success is her diverse experience. As a champion athlete, women's pioneer, and a national leader, she knows the value of hard work, perseverance, and yes, a competitive spirit.
Anyone close to me can tell you how competitive I am. I love to compete, and I hate to lose. This doesn't mean I act like a brat if, on the rare occasion, I do happen to lose! It means I do everything in my power never to lose at all. Whether it's sports, a board game, or an argument, I expect to win. One of my favorite sayings, which in past years I've made my students repeat everyday, is "Failure is not an option." Combine that with another favorite saying, "The best is yet to come," and one has a recipe for achievement.
Part of winning is mindset. Another part is action. When I coached high school girls' basketball, I taught my team that anytime they stepped onto the court, they must be convinced they would win, and that the only way they could fully have that conviction is if two things were true: 1) they'd personally done everything to prepare to win, and 2) they knew that each of their teammates had done everything to prepare to win. If either of these two things were lacking, they simply would not have that confidence. It takes more than one person's work, I wanted them to see, to lead to confidence and victory. I must be just as confident in the person to whom I'm passing the ball--that she'll finish the play--as I am in my ability to deliver the pass on target, which necessitates my knowing that the player prepared well. If I doubt that, I might not pass the ball--and that might be the difference between winning and losing.
Never underestimate the power of conditioning in a winning strategy, either. My team ran stairs, sprinted, did defensive slides, and in my last two years as coach--the championship years--practiced six days a week. While players from other schools were asleep at 8:00 Saturday mornings, my players were dragging their hopes and dreams into the gym for another day of drills, suicides, and plays. Believe me, they wanted to sleep, but they wanted to win more. This meant less time hanging out with friends on Friday nights because Saturday morning was coming. It was a sacrifice, but it was worth it to those who hated to lose, who had something worth winning.
We're in the midst of March Madness, and even as a spectator, there's something I cannot stand to see: weak, namby pamby teams who lay down and roll over without so much as a fight. Yesterday, I was excited watching women's basketball because I thought Georgetown was going to put out UCONN's fire--and as a Tennessee Lady Vols fan, I always cheer on anyone rival UCONN is playing. No one would have given Georgetown a chance against the defending champs, but they fought hard and almost pulled off the upset of the tournament. But as much as I hate to admit it, UCONN is a great team, and great teams always fight back. They never just bow down to the beating. They never go running and hiding because someone is throwing some heavy punches. They compete, and most often they win.
The far left and the Republican establishment could learn a thing or two about Governor Palin simply by paying attention to these lessons we find in sports. They always seem to be shaking their heads, groping in the dark, and suffering utter frustration at their inability to stop or slow down her momentum. The truth is nothing can stop the Governor but the Governor. She possesses all the qualities of a winner.
First, she's a competitor. She's stated that if she decides to run for the presidency, she's in with one outcome in mind:
You run the race to win the race. That's for sure.
Some had the nerve to be offended when she told Barbara Walters that she believed she could beat President Obama if she ran in 2012. What did they expect her to say? Of course, she believes she can win. Who better to take him on? Who else has opposed his destructive policies at every turn? As I wrote last night:
I agree that staying on the periphery to support a better candidate--when there is one--is admirable. However, of all the names being tossed around as possible 2012 contenders, she is the better candidate. She's the one with the record, the patriotism, the principles, the servant's heart, and the sheer guts to get the job done. So in the words of the army of voices praying for a promising future for themselves, their children, and their nation: "Run, Sarah, Run."
Surely, no true competitor puts in the time and energy simply to say she's done something unique. A true competitor, especially one who knows that the future may be riding on the outcome of the race, never runs half-heartedly. As we recall, part of Governor Palin's reputation as a "rogue" came from her outcry when the McCain camp threw in the Michigan towel, insisting it was out of reach. Governor Palin's response?
I want to get back to Michigan, and I want to try.
The Republican establishment, in all its obvious fear of Governor Palin, would like to get in the way of the will of the people, to extinguish the fight before it blazes, pick the winners and losers. But we don't roll that way. No, bring on the competition. As she has said repeatedly, there's nothing better than contested primaries. She's up to the challenge, and so are we.
Those who have waged war on all things Palin are providing her with the conditioning that they may soon regret. There's nothing she hasn't been through. Much weaker vessels would have packed it in, but not she. What else can be said? What else can be done? What other accusation can they hurl? It's all been tried. Their fight against her is like trying on the basketball court to defend against an offense that doesn't seem the least bit frazzled by anything you do. Her opponents already came with the full-court press--and failed. The pressure she's endured has only made her stronger. Of all the potential 2012 candidates, she is the best conditioned because she's been through the most. Many a game is lost in the fourth quarter because a team just isn't prepared to last till the horn, and they run out of steam at the most crucial time. They can't endure. Does anyone doubt Governor Palin's stamina? Her self-professed enemies are frustrated because they can't get her to sit down and shut up, because she doesn't run to the sidelines and beg to be taken out. She continues to fight, and they have helped her build those necessary muscles, much to their own chagrin.
It's amazing, isn't it, though, that those who seek to stop her in her tracks can dish it, but they cannot take it? They never expect her to do what UCONN did yesterday: fight back. They want her to be that weak opponent who will sit idly by and lose with grace. But there ain't no grace in surrender! And competitors surely don't just duck the dirt that's being slung. They don't allow their good name to be besmirched, their families attacked, and their record sullied--and say nothing. Yes, they pick their spots, but you better believe they've got the fight in them to take a stand and defend against the bullies on the playground--and they win with grace.
Success has been a reality for Governor Palin throughout her 20 years in public service. She knows how to get the job done, and it's no wonder she always steps up with an expectation of victory. After all, she possesses the two requirements that I taught my team. She has prepared herself, and she has a team around her who have prepared themselves. The Governor's experience offering herself in service to her children's public school, energizing business in her city, fighting corruption in her state, negotiating energy in the field of big oil, personifying common sense conservatism in her country, and conversing with dignitaries in foreign nations are preparation for success at whatever next step she decides to take. Her teammates are the family members loving her, her staff assisting her, and her supporters backing her. Each has prepared for whatever battle is ahead, thereby allowing the Governor to proceed with confidence.
True competitors frustrate their opponents because their will cannot be conquered. Even in weariness and in the heat of battle, they find the strength to continue because for them the thought of losing is greater than the pain of persevering--and what they're fighting for, to put it simply, is worth the effort.
Governor Palin is the strongest example of unapologetic patriotism and leadership we have seen in some time, many say since the days of President Reagan. She is driven by a faith in God, a love of country, and a commitment to service. Combine that with her competitor's spirit, and we've got ourselves a winner.