Empty The Tank

“ . . . full effort is full victory.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Did you get to see the recent Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament?  The USA Team won in the finals against Japan, with a score of 5 to 2. The same two teams faced each other in the finals four years ago, with Japan coming away with the victory. What caused the change in results?

Carli Lloyd, a key USA player who scored three goals in the game, has been interviewed a number of times, before and after the game.   During interviews and in other conversation, she uses a phrase that represents a formula implemented in her daily life. She calls it, “emptying the tank,” and her goal is to do this every day, in practice as well as in a game.

Do you remember a day when you gave it your all, when you left nothing on the field?   You ‘emptied your tank’ . . . and won! Most of us have experienced such a victory at some point. Some of us have had multiple victorious events.  And we are not limited to sports games when it comes to great wins that were achieved when we put forth everything we had to give. It happens in all kinds of contests. It also happens in life – within our families and communities when there is no competition.

For most of us, these celebratory moments of great effort followed, by a great victory, are relatively rare in occurrence. There are only so many days when we are called to give it our all in pursuit of some award or great victory.

Let’s be honest.  As normal human beings, we would be challenged to give everything we have every single day.  For those of us whose lives are very busy, it probably feels like we have emptied our tanks each day, perhaps not by choice.  In reality, the average person does not strive for such triumphant success every day.  Why not?  Do we have to wait for a special event to put forth a great effort? Are we limited to the only so-called “special moments” in life for our great wins?

I admit that I do not get up each day thinking this is going to be my ‘empty the tank’ day.  It would be more than most of us would even seek to do. But, what if we chose one day out of each month (or every week) to excel at our highest level?  Would that be something we could achieve?  The answer is yes! I know this is possible because of my own personal experience and practice throughout life.

I have such a day every week.  You will not be surprised when I tell you my day is Monday.  That is the day I have chosen to be my best, to make my best effort.  A partial list of things that make up a day of top performance for me include prayer, exercise, eating healthy and writing.  Regardless of recent failures and days of poor results, I strive on Mondays to be my best in the areas that are important to me. Your list will be different than mine, but you do have such a list.  If not, it will take you less than 60 seconds to compose it.  Just write down all the things you would do on a day that you would consider close to perfect through personal effort.  A day when you ‘emptied the tank.’

As a weekly exercise, this helps to keep me in a zone of productivity – the zone of being my very best.  I have found that one day of success begets multiple days of success. The fact that I choose Monday, a day when many are not so productive, is also part of my motivation. If I can be my best on Monday, when the world is telling me not to try that hard, I probably can be pretty good on many other days of the week.

My suggestion here is something that you are completely capable of handling. And yet, this one practice has the potential of changing your life in a huge way. How do I know? It completely changed my life.  Forty-plus years ago I made a vow to do my best on Mondays. Every Monday.  I will not tell you I succeeded on all the Mondays since then, but I have on many of them. And when I have failed, the next Monday reminded me to get up and try again. A designated day in each week gave me a chance to start over again and again, until I would and could get it right.

Today, it is much easier for me to give a great effort. Practices that have become habits have created a permanent formula for my life.

I doubt that any of my Newsletter readers are going to be in any World Cup finals in the future. But, you are in the world cup of your own life.  You are in the world cup with your family, co-workers and friends. How do you want to perform?  What does winning mean to you?  What is your definition of success?  Can you select just one day and decide to give it your all? Just one day this month.  After that day, reflect back on the results and think about how you can start enjoying more similar days every single month. And, then the most powerful move you can make is to decide to have such a day every single week . . . for the rest of your life.

Neal Armstrong landed on the moon on a Monday.  As his foot touched the moon’s surface, he spoke this infinitely famous quote,  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Today is one small step into your week and one giant leap into the rest of your life.

Today I will ‘empty my tank.’ Next week, I will do it again. Six months from now, I may enjoy several weeks that include multiple days of great effort.

“With this change, I can see me . . . “