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Four on Three: The Only Way Is Through.

If I see the neon light tunnel of Chicago's O'Hare airport when I leave this life and pass to the next, I may ask to turn around. In many ways, it has been my personal hell. I can't tell you how many times I have run through this passageway in a panic. 

It is a liminal space—a cold one. One that offers little to no auditory comfort. How many times must we hear, "the moving walkway is ending." Repeat, "the moving walkway is ending." And yet, one of my personal mottos was born from this very space. 

I believe: The only way is through. 

I say this to myself anytime I take on something difficult or demanding. Whether it is a physical, emotional, or spiritual challenge, I find comfort in this motto. 

Letting go. Moving on. Ending something. A medical procedure or treatment. Grading 100 papers. Running a race. A necessary conversation. The only way is through. 

We have to pass through places and spaces that are tough. We want short cuts, easy ways out, and even an alternative route. I am great at rationalizing the need for a another path. I can easily make an argument for an alternative method. But in my heart of hearts, eventually I come to accept: the only way is through.

Ted Lasso fans got a glimpse of this motto through the top player on the team, AFC Richmond's striker, Jamie Tartt. He said “If you want this to work, you have to stop going to me and start playing through me.” This scene might have been the climax of Episode 7; The Strings that Bind Us. 

At half time, Tartt stepped forward to share his realization in order for "Total Football" to work. After offending everyone in the locker room, he came to the drawing board to speak the truth. Upon centering himself in front of the diagram, his teammates and coaches stepped up and in. Tartt turned around to see them listening and shared his idea. It showed them the way. Not to....but through.

His insight was so moving that his teammate, Danny Rojas proclaimed "And there it is! Numero quatro! Sacrifice! Putting aside personal glory on behalf of the team." 

Without batting an eye, Ted said "
I like that, but it ain't number four."

While Jamie Tartt's speech speaks to selflessness—a necessity among individuals on a team sport—the motto of "through, not to" speaks to something different.

To me, to go through takes gumption and commitment. I think of putting my head down and grinding it out. This is not the time or space to seek an assist. It's about getting from point A to B....and not C, D or Z. Perhaps a motto is just one tool that can help.

I think there is a mystical truth to this motto that I don't have the words to express. Instead, they are something—like "Number Four" for Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond—that I will seek to uncover (not discover).

Hands in. Huddle Up. Four on Three: one! two! three! Together: four!

Photo credits
Light Tunnel




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