What Andrew Luck Can Teach us about Quitting

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At 29 years old, in the prime of his career, coming off a pro-bowl season in which he won the NFL comeback player of the year award, star quarterback Andrew Luck retired.

Much has been written about Luck’s decision to retire in the prime of his career. After coming back from a series of injuries, Luck explained in his retirement press conference that if he faced another long slog of rehab, he’d take a different direction. “I made a vow that if I ever came to this fork in the road again, I’d choose me.”

Choosing me doesn’t mean being selfish. It means having the perspective to choose who you want to be and how you want to live your life. The easy decision for Luck is to continue to play football. According to former teammate Matt Hasselbeck, “A lot of guys love being in the NFL, not a lot of guys just love football. Andrew Luck just loves football. There’s a difference.”

But when Luck was faced with giving up something that he loved, he found a way to move on. How he did so can be seen in how he finished up his last season. After a tough playoff loss, Luck was seen leaving the facility smiling. He explained to the Indy Star, “I remember being very sad, it was a bad day, I played very poorly. (But) something I learned last year, that If my worth as a human was going to be tied into how I did — the result of a performance in a football game — then I was going to have, pardon my french, a really shitty life.”

Perspective and Harmonious Passion.

If there ever was a poster boy for the ideas discussed in The Passion Paradox, it seems like Andrew Luck might be it.

As I’ve told in my own story, separating who you are from what you do is one of the most difficult, but most important, things that you can do. I struggled with it in moving on from my running career. When you love something, and can no longer do it, it’s like having a divorce with your identity. It’s something that athletes especially struggle with, as they move on during their early 20’s or 30’s, while the rest of their peer group is settling into their adult life.

Here’s hoping that we all can take a page out of Luck’s book and learn what it means to move on from something we love with grace and grit. With realizing long before the time comes to retire that we are more than whatever activity or job that we perform. And that we are all talented and hard-working enough to take our skills and apply them to something else that catches our interests. Here’s to chasing interests and seeing what they can develop into. 

— Steve

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