Notes and Cuts from Pressure is Privilege

Regular readers know that I do my best to keep my posts to less than 1,000 words. Really, the goal is 800. But I rarely make that 800 cutoff, so I settle for somewhere between 800 and 1000. Not so on this one. I’m at 1,087 words. I know it’s only 87 over my 1,000 cutoff, but it’s too much.

When I finished the draft I was happy with – I was at almost 1,700 words.

Well that’s too long.

Way too long.

So here are some of the trimmings from the cutting floor.

I had a big section on Lee Trevino. If I had found the quote I was looking for, I probably would have kept it.

Here’s what I drafted:

Somebody who epitomizes this (Pressure is a Privilege) mindset is one of my favorite athletes of all time: Lee Trevino, a professional golfer who is now in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He’s quite a character, as well as being the embodiment of the American dream. Trevino never knew his dad. He was raised by his grandfather, who made a living as a gravedigger, and by his single mom. He was picking cotton in Texas fields at the age of five. He found work as a caddie in a local golf club at age 14 and used that opportunity to practice on a few short holes, mostly made of dirt. Then somehow, through grit, determination, and a lot of talent, he went on to become one of the greatest golfers of all time, winning 29 tournaments during his career. Lee Trevino gets it. He knew then and knows now how fortunate he was to be playing the sport at that level. He understands what a privilege it was. He came from nothing, worked for all of it, and felt blessed. In the golfing world, his quote on pressure is legendary: “You don’t know what pressure is until you play for five bucks with only two bucks in your pocket.” Trevino went on to play for big purses, and at the age of 83, he’s still playing golf and as funny as ever – and he’s worth around $50 million.

The quote I was looking for was a story I’ve heard about a reporter who asked Trevino how he overcame the pressure while he stood over a putt that would win the tournament, and therefore win him $50,000. His answer (or so I heard), “Because if I miss, I still get $30,000.” The quote, if it’s real, freed him just to do his very best to sink the putt.

If you want more Lee Trevino quotes (he’s a quote machine), click here.

Another section that it pained me to take out was Theodore Roosevelt’s famous excerpt from his “Man in the Arena” speech. Here is what I wrote:

And when it comes to your critics, you would do well to embrace the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, who honored and admired those who had the privilege of being the person in the arena. 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I also included some facts about the tennis complex that hosts the US Open.

Arthur Ashe Stadium is the largest tennis stadium in the world (capacity: 24,000) and the crown jewel of the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York. You could not ask for two better people to honor in the world of tennis.

Finally, and it was difficult to cut this as well, I was conflicted on the Pressure is a Privilege quote because I know that for some, the pressure is not to succeed, the pressure is just to survive. For those living on the edge, for those who have nothing, King’s quote may seem intended for people from a different world. Here is what I drafted:

Pressure certainly doesn’t feel like a privilege when it comes to survival. When the decisions you are making have an impact on your survival and that of your family, that’s just pressure without privilege. Too many people in the world have that kind of pressure.

I’ve already engaged in a conversation about this with my friend Dawnalyn, and I may come back and visit that at a later time.

If you’ve clicked to this added link and read this far (Bill Sampson, I know you will be one of the few who do so, and I thank you!), thank you. I would appreciate your thoughts either through a comment back on the post page or through an email to me at Thanks for being such a great part of this community that I’m trying to develop. You make it better.