Touch the line and don’t cut the corners

It was my freshman year of high school and my last year to play basketball as I would focus on just football and baseball the remaining three years of high school.  At the end of every basketball practice, we would work on conditioning.  Conditioning was primarily running line drills (some call them suicides back in the day) and running laps around the gym.  Line drills were all-out sprints to various lines on the court and back to the baseline only to go again.  Laps were just endless running after the line drills.  I can still hear the coach yelling touch every line and don’t round those corners.  

I remember being committed to adhering to his directive to touch the lines and not round the corners.  However, I noticed that most of my teammates ignored the directive most of the time.  As fatigue set in, fewer players touched the lines.  More players rounded the corners.  While I continued to touch those lines and not round the corners, more and more of my teammates were taking short-cuts.  I kept waiting for our coach to do something.  Surely, he saw what was going on.  There were no consequences.  He would just keep yelling the same thing practice after practice, but no consequences.  

I’ll admit, I remember questioning why I should keep complying with the directive when most were not.  Why should I keep expending extra effort when there were no consequences for those that didn’t.  I continued to start and play significant minutes, but the playing time for other team members was not impacted by their performance during these conditioning drills.  One thing I eventually did notice, I was gaining speed, quickness, and endurance.  

We won’t always clearly see the benefits of doing the right thing or the consequences for those choosing to not do the right thing.  We may not always be recognized for our hard work.  We may see others taking short cuts and having success.  Doing the right things in life may not always have immediate benefits.  In fact, doing the right things may even cost us at times.  The costs could be financial, relational, advancement, fatigue, popularity, or any number of other things in life.  

If you start taking short cuts, taking advantage of others in situations, not completing tasks, or avoiding the “harder right thing”, the real question is where does it stop?  That mindset can become a habit that infiltrates every aspect of your life.  Likewise, a mindset that seeks to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be in the situation, can become a habit that directs your life as well.  

There is always a benefit in doing the right thing.  We may not see it immediately.  Maybe it’s the impact on others observing us.  Maybe it’s a long-term benefit that will eventually come to light.  Maybe it’s just the satisfaction of living a life that we can look back on and see that we did the right thing.  Just maybe hearing the words “well done” one day will be reward enough!

What lines do you need to start touching and what corners do you need to stop cutting?