“It’s finally paying off.”
I said this to myself with my head in my hands, letting all of the emotion that was years in the making overwhelm and flow out of me. Joy, relief, excitement, and other feelings were cascading through me in that moment.
The Cincinnati Bengals were going to the Super Bowl for the first time since I was 14 years old.
I’m not from Cincinnati, but I fell in love with the Bengals when I was 7 years old. My father was watching them play in their first Super Bowl and I happened to walk into the rec room while the game was on. I noticed the striking tiger-striped helmets – something I’d never seen before on a football helmet – and was drawn in.
“Who’s that?” I said, pointing at the orange and black team on the screen.
“They’re the Cincinnati Bengals,” my dad replied.
I sat down with him to watch the rest of the game. Even though they (which I shifted to “we” once I adopted them as my team) lost, I was now a fan.
The Long Game Begins
I stuck with them during the years where they made a return to the Super Bowl – where they lost to San Francisco AGAIN – and during the awful 90s. That loyalty never wavered, even as they dwelled in mediocrity (both lower-level and upper-level) up until they broke their 31 year playoff-winning drought.
And they broke it big time.
They won the AFC Championship. I was ecstatic. Years of loyalty were rewarded as I got text messages and phone calls and social media posts congratulating me on the Bengals win. (You know, because “we” won.)
Everything about this playoff run was satisfying on so many levels. It took years to get to this point, with plenty of hazards and heartbreak along the way.
But that’s what happens when you are in it from the long haul. When you play the long game, you needed to be patient with the progress. The process will change along the way.
I believe that you should have small intention and big intentions, just like you should celebrate the small wins and the big wins. I also believe that while the short game does have its place, the long game is what will get you to the place you want to be.
Giving The Long Game What It Needs
So as you tackle your to-do list and check over your calendar for today, ask yourself if what’s there is helping you with the long game.
Are those things serving your intentions or are they swerving you away from them? Are you doing things in the moment just for the sake of doing them or are they helping you be who you want to be… both at work and in life?
The Cincinnati Bengals were not-so-affectionately known as “The Bungles” for years – over 30 of them. With this run of success they’ve shed that tag and have another associated with them: champions.
Don’t bungle the long game for the sake of the short one. Champion your intentions and invest your attention on the long game and it’ll pay off.
By the way, here’s a GREAT Twitter thread from Brad Stulberg that’s related to playing the long game.