Bill Little commentary: Goals and dreams
Forgive me if we've already had this conversation, but a lot of self-help courses out there ask their participants to focus their future on two very similar, but different, premises: goals and dreams.
"Goals" are specific things that you seek to accomplish. They are based on a time frame and a structure. "By this particular date and time, I will accomplish 'x'."
It might mean you will clean the garage, call your mother, lose 15 pounds, stop smoking, secure a new job.
Dreams are more intangible. You may want to "create world peace," cure cancer or end global warming.
I could go on about both, but you get the idea. A goal is something that you have the ability to make happen, a dream is something that you hope and believe can happen.
Saturday in Columbia, Missouri, the search for both begins in earnest for the Texas Longhorn football team as it begins its Big 12 competition.
In the football team meeting room in the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletics complex the walls are filled with the years of various championships. There is a listing for the conference championships, the division championships, and the national championships. Two are significant in the "goal" category. A team can set its sights on the Big 12 South title, and the Big 12 championship.
Anything beyond that is a dream. You can position yourself for a National Championship, but things beyond your control can determine that.
What you can do is win your league, and let fate decide where you will wind up in a final poll.
As Texas begins its Big 12 campaign, the Longhorns enter league play as a projected favorite in every game. That is the status you yearn for, and the respect you accomplish when you become the nation's second-ranked team.
In the movie, The Gunfighter, a vintage western starring Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo, the established fast gun of his time, it seemed like everywhere he turned somebody was trying to out draw him.
"How come I've got to run into [someone like you] nearly every place I go these days? What are you trying to do? Show off for your friends?" Ringo says.
The Texas Longhorns have reached the pinnacle of college football, and they know exactly how ole Jimmy felt.
With the Longhorns and the Southern Cal Trojans firmly entrenched through the first month of the 2005 season as the nation's No. 2 and No. 1 teams, everywhere the two turn, somebody's gunning for them.
And what Johnny Ringo knew was, he had to be ready everywhere he went. He might not have been at his best that day, but he'd better be better than the other guy.
In other words, welcome to the fast gun world of college football's elite.
As Texas went back to work this week after an open date last Saturday, the road trip to Columbia to play the Missouri Tigers captured the Longhorns' attention. It wasn't hard. Of the bullets Texas dodged last year en route to that marvelous 11-1 season, Missouri extended the Longhorns more than any other opponent in Austin.
The Tigers out-gained the Longhorns, 358-266, and held an edge in first downs, 18-15.
It had appeared an easy day for the Longhorns as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, only to have the Tigers answer with two second-quarter touchdowns. A touchdown just before intermission gave Texas a 21-14 halftime lead, but when Missouri scored with 5:25 remaining in the game, the Tigers had cut the lead to 28-20.
Texas held off a last ditch effort by the Tigers to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The first month of the 2005 football season brought constant reminders of how evenly matched teams in college football are. As Mack Brown surveyed the results so far in preparation for his talk with his team prior to Missouri, upsets and comebacks dotted the list.
And from those results he came with two very important messages.
The first is "keep playing."
That one was hammered home again when Tennessee, down 24-7 in the fourth quarter to LSU, came back to win in overtime.
The other was "plan on winning."
And if you plan on winning, you are less apt to panic when a few things go wrong.
The experience of the 2005 Longhorns should serve them well there. This is the same team which trailed at Ohio State, and won late, 25-22. A year ago, the core of this team came from 10 points down to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and overcame ominous threats at Kansas, and when trailing 35-7 to Oklahoma State in Austin.
What Mack Brown has told his team during its remarkable success on the road (and the fact is, they haven't lost many at home, either) is the same old philosophy Rudyard Kipling penned in his poem "If."
"If you can keep your head, when those about you are losing theirs...." Wrote Kipling.
Brown would say it differently.
Realize that the other team will likely have a surge. Be prepared to withstand it. Maintain control.
Or, as Brown told the ABC crew doing the Missouri game Saturday, "Somebody once said that life is like a cleaning crew...the young janitor may work quicker and harder, but the old janitor sweeps into the corners, and cleans the floor."
So there you have it: the goal is to sweep the floor.
The dream is to sweep it clean.