It’s no secret that I’m a football fan and that my team is the Indianapolis Colts. We’re having a pretty dismal year without our star quarterback (0-8 so far), so I’ve been following team news more closely than ever. Yesterday, Peyton gave an interview about his rehabilitation and playing status, and while most of it consisted of the same wait-and-see-I’m-making-progress-but-nothing-has-really-changed commentary, one particular comment caught my attention:

All I know is, I like playing.  I enjoy being out there.  I miss being out there in the huddle.  When I’m on that sideline looking out in the huddle even though I’m probably just 25 yards away from the huddle, it feels like I’m a million miles away.    –Peyton Manning, in a November 2011 interview

I know that feeling, and I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced it, too. When you’re out of the loop, you can be inches away from the action and still buckle under the feeling of being outside looking in.

It works both ways, though. Sometimes I find myself in the dead center of the fray, playing along, and I still feel miles away. (Don’t read anything into this about Peyton; I’m heading off on my own tangent.)

This tells me one thing: true participation requires not only the physical, but also the mental. Until you feel connected–better yet, until you mentally engage–you’ll never really be in the game. Sure, you have to be in the huddle and on the playing field, but if your head’s not in it, you might as well be a million miles away. At that point, it’s time to evaluate whether your participation is worth the effort. If so, find a way to connect. Get interested, and get in the game. If you just can’t make that happen, get out of the way.

Think how much more you could accomplish if you devoted your time to projects which capture your full attention. You know the projects I mean: the kind you find yourself thinking about when you’re driving down the road or standing in the shower. The projects that captivate you and draw out your best effort. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you’ve got too much to offer to do anything else.

Back to Peyton. He’s one of those guys who devotes himself to his craft, mentally and physically. He eats, sleeps, and breathes game strategy. As soon as his body lets him get back on the field, he’ll be all in. That’s what makes him so good at what he does. The best part is that it works the same for everyone. There’s a little Peyton somewhere in all of us.