I have played sports my whole life. I have had some success, but overall I’m a mediocre athlete (now out of shape) who tries hard. Here are some things I’ve learned that are applicable to my life.
- Showing up is not enough. Real sports, not t-ball and pre-k soccer, involve winning and losing. Not everyone who shows up wins. In fact, sometimes simply showing up means getting embarrassed, hurt, and destroyed by the other team. That same sentiment is true in life. Being good at anything requires effort. Whether it is your job, being a parent, a spouse, or even a friend, effort is key to being good. Showing up is a good start to being good, but if all you do is show up, most likely you will fail. The good thing about life skills is that multiple winners can exist simultaneously. Being a good dad doesn’t mean you have be a better dad than your neighbor, you can both be good. Conversely, you can end up with a whole group of losers on your hands. So, show up and try.
- There is always someone better than you. I don’t care what it is, someone will always be better at you in a specific area. I worked hard in the weight room. I have had two instances in my life where I put on 30+ lbs (mostly muscle) in a few months by working my tail off. Boy did I have to work compared to some guys. Getting my bench press over 325 was monumental. But there were guys I played football with in college who surpassed that feat before their senior year in high school. But, I was better than them at other things. (applied mathematics being one noticeable area) This holds true in every aspect of life. In everything I’ve ever done someone has been better than me at it. You might say, “what about guys who are the BEST?” The very few elite people who are blessed by being the absolute best at something (Take Usain Bolt running the 100m for example) will eventually not be the best. Time is the great equalizer. A dead man stinks at everything… literally. Even if you hold the record for being the best, that only means you were the best in the world at one time. So, don’t worry if you aren’t the best, very few are for a very short time. Make the best out of what you have.
- People are out to get you. I’m not paranoid, not everyone is out to get me, but there are some. In sports you try to best your opponent. Sometimes this gets lost while watching team sports. In every team sport you have multiple little games going on within the game. The center and the nose tackle engage in war at every snap of the ball. Both trying to best the other. Much of the time it’s “fair.” By fair I mean both parties abiding by the rules and competing out of mutual respect for one another. Sometimes its not fair. People without character try to get you by any means necessary. People freaked out because of the New Orleans Bounty Scandal. That’s not the first time that’s ever happened. In fact, I know a number of players that had that attitude starting in peewee. I don’t care what that coach said, the players with character played fairly, the ones without would have played no differently. In life, some people are out to get you. This is especially true if you are doing something of value and is worthwhile. It may be a boss who is threatened by you, or a colleague who wants your position. These people are all the same. They will do whatever it takes to get what they want, WHATEVER it takes. You can’t stoop to their level. A person of character acts that way even when it’s hard. Just watch out and act wisely.
- Taking responsibility is key. In sports taking responsibility is not simply admitting fault. Responsibility also involves working to fix the problem. Watching game film can be difficult. Having someone critique your every move in super slow motion is a tough pill to swallow. Things that you never realize come out. I didn’t realize I was stepping with the wrong foot… or I could have sworn I blocked that middle backer. Admitting you messed up isn’t good enough. Everyone knows you messed up, it was on the big screen, they just watched it. What are you going to do to fix it? That is the key. Life is the same way. You are judged on the way you raise your kids, do your job, talk to your friends, what you eat (oh dear), etc… When your failures are in plain sight, it is not enough to admit to them. That is a good start, but not enough. Making it right is taking responsibility.
There you go. 4 things I learned from sports. There are 1000’s more but these have been on my mind lately. Hope you enjoyed it…