Amollo: Defy conventional wisdom in pursuing your goals

Benson Amollo

I watched the Cyclones’ great win against Texas Tech — a duel that ended up proving true the most unexpected answers to the very expected grand question. And as I looked over my shoulder in that jolt when a warm shiver travels from the legs upward, I thought about the once-coveted audacity of risk taking in America’s DNA.

I thought the Cyclones deserved their well-earned victory because that sounds like a great American story. I thought it was a moment that relived the tales of rewarding hard work, belief and refusing to be sized up.

Above all else, I knew the naysayers were wrong. I knew that young Americans needs to be given back its wings to fly; to try without being told it can’t. Once again, who would have thought? Conventional wisdom from the mainstream media and a “never-wrong” blogosphere had all the scales tilted in favor of the No. 19-ranked Texas Tech. We can all now discuss that history till the cows come home — it was a great sportsmanship in a minefield of doubt.

I came out thinking that conventional wisdom should take a back seat and let young Americans exploit their abilities. Young people’s hopes should not be a function of how well people, who’ve made a career out of self-styling, speak of them. Isn’t this the country where everything is supposed to be possible, or was that idea an historical fabrication?

Self-styled pundits and media “experts” are writing manuals on every facet of life. Worst of all is how they position themselves at the high tower of authority on how talent should play itself. They decide who would and/or should win a purely athletic duel from the comfort of a glitzy studio in their tuxedos and that alone is enough to make the rest of us nod and resign ourselves to fate.

What lessons do they hope to teach young and upcoming Americans? Nothing, perhaps.

The lesson in unexpected outcomes such as this is that hard work never disappoints. If determination and discipline be its twin, then expert predictions matter the least; you win. The reality is that young people have potential that is reassuring.

There will be heightened how-to-do-it directives. But with a steeled passion, committing to a cause pays. The winners go forth and win and are sobered in life by the new reality, there’s a new ray of chastity; that it’s all possible. You can always do it. Someone, standing where you do now, has done it before.

The work to disprove conventional wisdom in any realm of life will be cut out for the young with ambition. It is that drive that will grease their palms and guide their forte — whether on the football field or in pursuing knowledge in science. There might be a few cheerleaders in your corner, but the distractions are worth ignoring; a lot of conventional wisdom aimed at fitting you in place will mostly be a distraction and should be treated as such.

There will be tears, some mourning and second thoughts, but with a resolve to summon the ability and talent that the experts are never-so-good at seeing, you will rise and win and run away with your dream. As Americans, we will weep; as Americans, we will mourn; and as Americans, we will have doubts.

It is the conventional wisdom, stupid!

From a distance, I watched the Cyclones play away in Texas. And I kept thinking of Jack Trice. Not the stadium, of course. Trice is the fellow in whose honor the Cyclone stadium is named. An African-American from a small town in Ohio, he played football at Iowa State and died in what has been reported as his first “real” game. He went fierce; when playing with his team against Minnesota in October 1923, he trained his eyes in victory and destiny.

He was adamant to play and kept going, even after breaking his collar bone. Later that year, he succumbed to those injuries and died. Several decades later, in 1997, the Cyclones’ stadium was renamed in his honor, making Iowa State the only Division I school in the NCAA with a stadium named after an African-American. Conventional wisdom has no place in his story, and should not determine anyone’s.