Earlier this month, I watched part of a CNN's Black In America 2. In one segment, Soledad O'Brien interviewed Steve Perry, PhD, principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Ct. Born on his mother's 16th birthday, into a 3rd generation of poverty, Dr. Perry had all odds against him. Today, he is a brilliant and inspiring, no excuses educator who rises every morning at 4:30 to pick up students and take them to school.
I am impressed and inspired by Dr. Perry's commitment to improve his own circumstances, and to use his success to help inner city children be successful. His bold, no-excuses approach has yielded stellar results. One hundred percent of graduating Capital Prep students go on to attend a 4-year college. One significant thing that struck me during O'Brien's interview is Dr. Perry's admonition to his students that, “You have to learn to play hurt.”
As you might imagine, the vast majority of Capital Prep students come from broken and sometimes even abusive homes. There is alcoholism, drug abuse, physical abuse and the constant drumbeat of what I call “stuck-ness.” And even though these kids have every reason to give up, or to never even start, Dr. Perry still looks them in the eye, expresses empathy, lets the tears fall for a moment, and then tells them that their circumstances are not an excuse to fail.
Learn To Play Hurt
Isn't it the same way in business? Time is short. Money is short. The economy stinks. You're exhausted. You don't get as much sleep as you should and probably not enough exercise. Friends turn on you because they don't understand the hours you are putting in. Sometimes spouses don't understand. Customers are demanding and often unforgiving. It never ends, and sometimes, you just want to crawl into a hole and give up. But to be successful in business, as Dr. Perry would say, you have to learn to play hurt.
When you're spent and don't think you can respond to one more media lead, you have to learn to play hurt. When after serving customers all day you have to take care of your kids, then come back to work after they are asleep, have to learn to play hurt. When your best friends accuse you of abandoning them because you spend too much time on your business, you have to learn to play hurt. When the tax bill comes, you have to learn to play hurt.
Make It Clear: You Are Not Here to Lose!
Let people know that you didn't come to lose. Play hard until you win, until you accomplish your goals. Do what you have to do to get it done.
It's all worth it, I assure you. Playing hurt is temporary. If you play hurt for a while, you will eventually rise above the pain to play on your own terms. Then, like Dr. Perry, you can reach back and help other people do the same.
You can watch the entire segment on Dr. Perry and his work at this link.
Question: Do you play hurt?