1: Trevor Lawrence was one of his generation’s outstanding high school and college quarterbacks.
He had 52 wins and 2 losses as a high school five-star recruit. As the quarterback at Clemson during the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons, he won 34 games and lost only two.
In April of 2021, as the projected #1 NFL draft pick, he told Sports Illustrated he didn’t “need” football to feel worthy as a person and that there is “more to life than football,” Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy write in The Gap and The Gain: The High Achiever’s Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success.
Trevor’s high school coach Joey King, said, “There is no doubt about it: With who he is as a person, he could walk away from it tomorrow and be fine.”
The response from the NFL and media world was “hysterical,” Dan and Ben note. All the major sports channels and even mainstream news featured the story.
“He must not be a true competitor.”
“This is not the type of mindset of someone who is going to win in this league.”
“If Trevor Lawrence isn’t 100% obsessed about football, then he will not win at this level.”
“I don’t know how great you can really be if you’re not selfish and adopt the win-at-all-costs attitude.”
2: Many people believe to be the very best at what we do, we must be “completely obsessed” with what we’re doing, Dan and Ben write. Obsession is the price that must be paid for greatness.
“Trevor Lawrence rubbed the whole sports world the wrong way because he basically said, ‘No, I don’t,’ to the idea that he ‘needed’ football in an unhealthy and obsessive way in order to be the best.”
The story got so “out of hand” and “over-the-top” that Trevor clarified his comments on Twitter.
He said: “It seems as if people are misreading my sentiment. I am internally motivated—I love football as much or more than anyone. It is a HUGE priority in my life, obviously. I am driven to be the best I can be and to maximize my potential. And to WIN.
“I have a lot of confidence in my work ethic, I love to grind and to chase my goals. You can ask anyone who has been in my life. That being said, I am secure in who I am, and what I believe. I don’t need football to make me feel worthy as a person. I purely love the game and everything that comes with it.”
Later that week, he appeared on ESPN’s First Take show with reporter Stephen A. Smith to discuss his perspective further.
“If football went away, I’d find something else to do, and I’d still have a great life and enjoy my life. But football is where my heart’s at. It’s what I love to do. It’s what I’ve loved to do since I was six years old. This has been my dream forever.
“I think you can have both. People want it to be one or the other. But for me, that’s what’s been one of the healthiest things is realizing that this isn’t the only thing in the world. There’s more to it, but also, football has been the biggest priority in my life.”
3: The science shows Trevor has it exactly right, Dan and Ben observe.
“Trevor Lawrence demonstrated at a deep internal level how both happiness AND high performance work,” they write. Not only is he “healthy and happy as an individual, but research proves that his is the optimal mindset for maximizing his potential as a high performer.”
That his statements were so demonized by the media and sports world demonstrates that most people—even high performers —do not understand how happiness and high-performance function.
“Most high performers or ‘successful’ people never took the class on happiness. And there’s a thick narrative out there that in order to be the best performer we can be, ‘happiness’ and ‘balance’ cannot be part of the equation,” the authors note.
“But that conventional wisdom is wrong,” Dan and Ben write. “Having an unhealthy ‘need’ or ‘obsession’ is not how you reach your highest level.”
Let’s analyze Trevor’s statement: “I think you can have both.”
1: Having an intense commitment to succeed, and
2: having a healthy detachment from what we are doing
Trevor loves football. He is dedicated. He works hard to get better. He’s committed to winning.
“But he doesn’t need football,” the authors write.
“That’s his point—you can have both: you can be 100% committed to something and simultaneously not need it,” they write.
Reflection: Do I believe I must be “obsessed” to be successful? Is this the price that must be paid to be a high performer?
Action: Journal about my answer to the questions above.