Based in Washington, Ross is a general manager of a food safety company. His musings explore life, work and every moment in between.

Survive & Advance

The NCAA Tournament is one of my favorite events. The first two days with games going all day long is a disaster for American productivity and a boon for TV ratings and the gambling business. The tournament consists of 64 teams seeded 1-16 and a win-or-you’re-out format. With real-time stats and upset alerts peppering our cell phones, the tournament is highly distracting.
Laura and I traveled to her parent’s house Wednesday night for a long weekend. This trip coincided with her high altitude restrictions (the house is at 9,400 feet) that kick in during pregnancy. Our visit was scheduled based on biology and did not take into account NCAA Basketball. Thanks to a scheduling quirk, my alma mater Gonzaga just happened to be playing three hours away in Denver on Thursday night. With the buckets of snow we were receiving and the two mountain passes between the ranch and Denver, attending the game was out of the question. This relegated me to watching the game updates on my phone (there is no TV at the Ranch). I sat in front of the fire after dinner stressed out with nervous energy and refreshing the ESPN Gamecast hoping that 11-seed Gonzaga would pull out the victory over 6-seed Seton Hall. Glued to my phone, hoping my connection to a satellite that is barely faster than dial up would hold, I was reminded about the phrase most used to describe the NCAA Tournament; survive and advance.
Survive and advance is not just a great expression for a win-or-go-home tournament, it is a great way to describe our lives. When we think of the challenges we face at work or home, in most cases there is no real way to “win”. Our first goal is to survive each of the challenges that we are faced with before we can advance to the next. There are no additional style points for winning by 20 or winning on a last second shot in the tournament and there are no additional style points for handling our work or personal problems with ease or struggling through them. In the end, the outcome is all that counts. Survive and advance is more of a way of life. It represents our spirit to endure the challenges in front of us. It represents our resilience to keep working even when our backs are against the wall. It represents more than our spirit to achieve, but our human spirit to persevere sometimes despite long odds.
Gonzaga won the game against Seton Hall and thanks to the weather clearing up, with me loudly supporting them from the 3rd deck, they won again on Saturday. They advance to Chicago to play Syracuse on Friday in the sweet sixteen significantly overachieving their national expectations. Sometimes in sport, at work or in our personal lives, all you need to do is survive. That realization just might mean the difference between folding or advancing.

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