Close Just Shows You How Far You Still Have To Go.

“Failure isn’t final. It’s a test – and the difference between those who pass and those who don’t is who gets up and who doesn’t.” — Emily Bennington

I love sports for many reasons, but over the years, I’ve discovered I love it most for one reason: Sports remind me exactly what I need to do in order to be great.

This year, three of my teams had amazing seasons. They did things that they weren’t really supposed to do.

My Missouri Tigers had the best season in school history and earned a no. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. My Washington Capitals shook off a bad funk, made the playoffs and upset the defending Stanley Cup champs. My Washington Nationals finished with the best record in baseball.

But then came the big games.

My Tigers hit front rim on a three pointer at the buzzer and lost by two to Norfolk State in the opening game of the tourney.

My Caps gave up the game-tying goal — one that went off the post — with 6 seconds left at Madison Square Garden in Game 5, and then the game-winner in OT, and went on to lose to the Rangers in seven games.

My Nats were one strike away from the National League Championship Series, but somehow couldn’t get it, and lost, 9-7, to the St. Louis Cardinals.

An inch or two here and the Tigers hit that three. An inch or two there and the puck hits the post and goes out for a Capitals W. An inch or two anywhere and the Nats win their first postseason series in 70 years.

Change a few inches, and this is the best sports year of my life.

Instead, it’s just another year that wasn’t quite good enough. Another year in which my teams were “close.”

Close is disappointing, yes. But it’s also a powerful measuring stick.

Close shows you how far you still have to go.

There are so many things that we want to accomplish in our lives. These things never come as easily or as quickly as we want them to.

But that’s okay. The greats get back out there and keep doing the work. The greats keep going.

I know my teams are already working toward next year. What’s happened is done. What’s ahead is still left to be written.

So here’s the only question that matters: Are you ready to step up and be great this year?

That image at top comes via @hopespaul.