db: The bar also rises

“You go back, Jack…”

Dateline: Elite no. 1 

“I always tell myself, I can do better.”
Brandon Palaniuk
2017 Bassmaster Angler of the Year

Once risen, the bar never sets.

It will continue to rise, or it will be lowered, which way the bar moves is up to you.

Know this, and I believe this, the bar will rise as far as you can raise it. Never let the bar sit, never be satisfied where the bar sits, push yourself, raise the bar once, raise the bar twice.

Raise the bar always.

“…do it again..”

“Celebrate what you've accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.”
Mia Hamm 

He is somewhere between Idaho and Texas, I know him well enough to hear the tiredness in his voice. Even at his young age the distance, the snow, the road detours, the straight line blacktop can wear you out.

“Hey db,” said in the low tempo of a favorite classic acoustic song, “how you doing man?”

I’ve watched this young man grow, watched him get bumped and bruised, consoled and snapped at, close to this young man as if he was a child of mine of the road. 

“How you?”

“Tired…” 

“I know…”

And even though he is a thousand miles away, in my mind’s eye, I see him smile at my response. It is not the back and forth of reporter/interviewee, it’s a quiet opening, a been there done that storyline, between an old man and a young man. 

Both good friends, both tired.

“You up for this?”

“Yep, always ready, always ready…”

“Okay, so Mr. Angler-of-the-Year, you gonna raise the bar again this year, or let it sit?”

And in a big truck pulling a big RV, followed by another big truck pulling a big bass boat, Brandon Palaniuk chuckled and said exactly this, “My goal this year db, this and every year is to win every Elite event I fish in.”

The bar also rises.

“…wheels turning…”

“Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.”
John Wooden

Doesn’t matter if you are the Angler of the Year or the something of the year, if you have raised the bar once, you can do it again.

“Yeah it was amazing to win AOY, it was a dream come true but you know what, there is always room for improvement, you can always do it better, and better…”

Better never stops, the chase though can be frustrating, “Yeah I’m sure sometime this year I’ll have an off day, an off couple of days or tournament, that’s going to happen, and suddenly there will be ‘what’s wrong with Brandon’ going around but to be honest if it was easy, everybody would win it, it’s not easy, but you have to believe in yourself…”

Whatever bar it is that you face in your life, your work or career, only you can raise it. “Proving to myself that I’m good enough, that I can do it, that I can accomplish what I set out for, to me that’s my biggest motivator.”

“…’round and 'round…”

“You can raise the bar or you can wait for others to raise it, but it's getting raised regardless.”
Seth Godin

Brandon Palaniuk is a .663 hitter.

In my crazy way of taking this sport down to the “at bat” stats (number of tournaments--at bats--divided by number of times in the money--hits--equals Elite batting average) Brandon has been in 89 tournaments and been in the money 59 times.

“I don’t feel the outside pressure, I only feel the pressure within me, and yeah that sometimes gets to be a bunch, but that’s what motivates me, I want to keep winning no matter how many times I’ve won.”

There are special folks in sports, in industry, in life and if you are lucky enough to be around them, luckier even to know them and be close with them, you can feel the energy they emit when they are doing what they were put on this planet to do. 

I’ve watched great athletes pace the sidelines waiting for the next set of downs, waiting for their next shot at winning, and I’ve watched Brandon pace the backstage area waiting for the weigh-in to be over, waiting to know if he will fish another day, and the feeling I get watching him is the same as standing on the gridiron.