This past weekend, the incredibly successful college football coach, Urban Meyer announcement his retirement from the University of Florida where he won two national championships in the space of five years. He is 45 years old. The announcement was both startling and unexpected. Meyer cited the need to take care of his health and to spend more time with his family. Further information revealed he had visited hospitals frequently with chest pains suggesting potential heart problems. While those fears proved groundless, they indicated that this successful driven man was being devoured by stress.
It is a lesson for all of us. When does passion for excellence become obsession which skewers our life balance until there is nothing left but “our work” and the relentless pursuit of perfection. The toll this takes on us (and our families and colleagues) is enormous. Perfection is unattainable and turns our achievements — in our drive for excellence — into dust. Meyer subsequently modified his stance to say he was simply going to take a year’s sabbatical and then return to coaching. I hope he is able to learn how to seek fulfillment without allowing obsession to tule him.