Winning, One Decision at a Time

“I think that the good and the great are only separated by the willingness to sacrifice.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


By Dawn Onley

As I sit on my bed debating whether to finish this bag of gummy bears, a thought enters my mind: “You have to give up something to get something.”

That’s some sort of universal law. Or it ought to be. Nothing in life comes without some sort of sacrifice. At least for most of us. Our results largely depend on how good we are at sacrifice.

Our time. Our freedom.  Candy. Chips. Excuses. Blame. Convenience. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Toxic people. The need to be right. The need to be in control. Love.

Something has to give. We have to extend more of ourselves, or less of ourselves, depending on the goal we’re after. The status quo is not enough.


I know this. Most people know this. But knowing and doing are two totally different things — like sand and peanut butter. We know we should save more money, yet we spend money we don’t have to get things we don’t need. We know we should hit the gym, but lying on the couch feels better. We know if we give up complaining, we may just arrive at a more optimal mental place, yet we complain and continue to see the world as half empty — forget the glass.


For countless successful people, there have been stories of personal sacrifice, where they gave up their creature comforts and instant gratification for something that would benefit them in the long-term. They lived below their means. If need be, they held down multiple jobs. They were willing to do whatever it took to get to the next level. As I watch the NBA finals, I see guys with tremendous talent and ability who sacrificed hours upon hours on a basketball court to perfect that natural skill. They sacrificed so that they could be great. The effort we put in is usually the effort that we get out. As we sow, we reap.

I had a roommate for several years. It made sense for me and for her – I had a spare bedroom and bath in my basement and she was looking to rent a room with a private bath. I gave up some privacy under the arrangement, but I gained some things too. In addition to the mental stimulation that our deep conversations always brought, having a tenant enabled me to jump start my savings in a way that I had only paid lip service to doing before that.

Sacrifice pays off if we are intentional about getting to the next level. If we are willing to be uncomfortable temporarily to eventually get to a better state.

It’s a timely reminder for me as I close this bag of gummy bears and reach instead for my bottled water. This is how we win the battles – one decision at a time.

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