Long before he appeared in “I Spy” and “The Cosby Show,” Bill Cosby started his career doing stand-up comedy. His brand of humor was different from many of the comics of his time. He based his material on his life experiences and presented that to his audiences without resorting to vulgarity or deprecation. I thought he was a very funny man.
When I discovered that he had recorded his material I immediately purchased his first release – and all the others which were subsequently issued. I remember listening to these records over and over – to the point where I had memorized most of them. Of course, my favorite was his depiction of a conversation between God and Noah in which the patriarch is ordered by God to build an ark. But for the purpose of this post I turn my attention to another one of his routines.
In real life, Cosby was a gifted track and field athlete. He was on Temple University’s track team and was told by his coach that he would be representing his school in a meet against one of their arch-rivals. As Cosby put it, he took up the challenge and dedicated himself to doing his best to make sure that Temple took home the trophy.
He worked out, trained, ate right, went to bed early – worked out, trained, ate right, went to bed early. He devoted himself to this routine day after day, week after week until the day of the track meet. All pumped up, he put on his track uniform and shoes and eagerly went down to the track.
There he was on the starting line. The starting gun fired. Cosby looked up – and realized that he was dead last. Dead Last.
“I could have stayed up all night, eating pizza and partying – never working out or training and I could have been dead last,” Cosby remarked at the conclusion of this routine. Although it was very funny in the context of the material – I thought about the fact that many of us transact our lives with that attitude.
It is true that we can set a goal for ourselves and, for whatever reason, fail to achieve it. At that point we have a choice – either to try again (risking further failure) – or just giving up. Too many of us choose the latter path. We simply quit.
We succumb to our negative thoughts or those showered on us by our fellow quitters who gleefully tell us that, “you just can’t do that.” And we buy into that losing philosophy. It becomes self-fulfilling.
When we stop trying we have guaranteed ourselves a place in the field. That place is Dead Last.
Is that where any of us really wants to finish the race?