There is no second place.
Like most good little suburban girls, I grew up in the well-rounded throws of piano lessons, soccer and dance, a rotation which I finally narrowed to just dance in high school. Even though I left the “sports” world as a freshman in high school I still continued to compete as a dancer, and felt the wrath and pressure of the athletic industry where if you are not the best, you are nothing.
My dad was an all-star baseball player throughout high school and college, serving as team captain and receiving multiple scholarships and offers, including an international invitation to play for the Italian league. From a young age he instilled in my brother and I the importance of playing to win and never accepting anything less than first place. At the time it seemed like a lot of pressure, knowing there was only one option to be seen as a success. But now, I consider it one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned.
You see, first place is not just an award you win… It’s a state of mind. It’s a goal to achieve and a thought process that helps you structure and determine what it is you want and how much work you need to put in to achieve it. Everything you do you need to approach with the passion that you will learn, listen, observe, work hard, and persevere until you have accomplished what it is you set out to do. You don’t quit, and you don’t let life knock you down with every curveball it throws at you… because there will be more than you could ever imagine and each one will feel harder than the next.
Perhaps at times I live my life like this to a fault. Not EVERYTHING needs to be a competition; I am learning to accept my strengths and weaknesses for what they are, and pick my battles based on what is worth fighting for… in other words, what’s the grand prize? If I win “first place” will that make me happy? If the answer is no, then cut your losses and move on.
However, when I do commit to something, I’m all in. And I instill that belief and mentality in the artists that I work with, because THEY deserve that same push and tough love that drove me to never quit and to find my way.
In the words of my father, “There is no second place.”