Riding the pine, sitting the bench, carrying the water, call it what you will…it’s all the same. It’s the guy or gal who doesn’t get put in the game until the score is so lopsided the C or D player couldn’t possibly hurt anything.

Sometimes these are young players in training. They watch the pros with the “lean and hungry look” of Cassius in Julius Caesar and burn with impatience until they get their turn to shine.

But more often than not, these benchwarmers are players whose glory days mostly exist in the scrapbooks they pull out when fans or relatives show up at the house. Whether it’s through injury, age, laziness, or lack of heart, they’ve lost the edge.

Or maybe they haven’t lost it at all. Maybe they’ve just stayed the same while the superstars kept improving.

Think about your performance. How do you rate your current capabilities compared to 10 years ago? How about five years ago? One year ago?


If you’re not making significant efforts to continually improve, you’re not staying the same, you’re falling behind. Why? Because your competition is continually raising the bar. Want some proof?

I was at the pool in Munch in 1972 when Mark Spitz dominated the Olympic swimming competition with an unheard-of seven gold medals. I was there again in Atlanta in 1996 where, even with his then-record-breaking times, Spitz would not have made the team.

At the 1980 Olympics Eric Heiden won five gold medals in speed skating. By the 1998 Olympics, Heiden’s fastest gold medal-winning time would have put him in 40th place!

In 1994 Dan Jansen blew away the 1,000 speed skating competition at Lillehammer. Just four years later in 1998, his times would have put him in 19th place!

Mackay’s Moral: Sharpen your edges. We can’t always be the best… but we can always be the best we can be. 

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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