Throughout preseason this year, I think our team — made up of both veteran players and new hires — really made a lot of progress. One thing we were able to really hone in on is attention to detail. When new players come to training camp, they are often overwhelmed with the workload and stress is high. It shocks you at first, but after a while, you get used to the intensity and that’s when it gets fun. That’s when you get in the training camp mode and you are able to start fine-tuning things for the season.
At the beginning of the season, it’s hard to navigate handling both your own and others’ expectations for how the next few months are going to go. Especially this year, being the defending Super Bowl champs, we have a target on our backs. And with new key players on the team, we have new dynamics and strategies to worry about that we didn’t face last year. But the new set of things to work through is exciting at the same time.
Expectations can both drive you to be better and drive you into the ground. As an individual, it’s important to set expectations and goals for yourself. If you don’t, you will never accomplish the things you want to do; you won’t get where you want to go. The biggest thing to understand however, is that expectations are things unrealized. In order to do great things and get to great places, you have to put in the hard work it’s going to take to see your dreams come to fruition. For us, we have to — both as a team and as individuals — work really hard to find success. Expectations are only fulfilled by gaining a hard work ethic and holding the right attitude throughout the process.
When things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to become frustrated. And those are real emotions that everyone faces. But what I have realized is that you don’t have to allow external situations to corrupt the internal joy you have. We need to allow external things to motivate us, but the greatest motivation comes from within. I know, personally, that whatever setbacks I face, I’m doing everything in my willpower to be the best I can be. And with that comes contentment. When I look at the goals I have set for myself, that I want to accomplish, I need to keep myself from seeing only the end result I desire. If I focus only on situational and external motivations around me, my attitude may get out of whack. I need to take a step back and look at things differently.
My faith in God helps me with my own expectations and hopes. Because of this, I know the substance of who I am is not wrapped up in what I achieve, but in who I am in Christ. Whether I do well or not, or am surrounded by external situations that are frustrating, I know the internal and eternal worth I have in Christ is unshakable. He is the One that shapes who I am. He is my motivation and my driving force. It’s for Him that I aim to be and do my best every moment.
When people ask me why it is that I’m still able to find joy even in the midst of frustrating circumstances, I can tell them that my internal joy comes from something much greater. God is the One who holds me together.
— Chris Maragos, Philadelphia Eagles safety
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.