Sport As Growth
Last week we wrapped up with “Becoming > winning. Growth > points scored.” Steering athletes to view success and failure with a different lens is very important, and is an applicable life skill beyond athletics. Success is giving your all, laying it out there, having the courage to try knowing you might fail. Successful people know that failing is part of growth, failing is learning.
Sports should help us grow as people. Period. Who we become as we play sports and face challenges and chase goals is the most important thing. Wanting to be great at a sport, working to grow in your skill set, and putting in the sweat when it isn’t easy, these things all develop character: great perseverance, toughness and discipline. These are the values of athletics, the reason that former athletes make great employees.
When we focus on our process of becoming, we get the order right: Person first. Player second. Athletes who see themselves as players first run into a lot of hardship because they see their results as a statement on their self-worth (play bad=unworthy; play well=feel good and accepted). Opposite from this, athletes who see themselves first as a person can judge their self-worth based on their reaction to things in their sport (continue to be a great teammate and encourager when they are playing poorly; winning and staying humble; missing a game winning shot, but being proud they had the courage to take it). All of these reactions are in their control at all times.
Urging athletes to adopt this perspective means that every training opportunity is a chance to build skills to become a better person. Every reaction to good moments and challenging moments is a chance to grow as a person. It’s a shame to allow sports to create value statements for who you are; instead let sports mold you and teach you so that you can be a strong, productive, and confident person striving to grow each day.
The last two posts were inspired by Brett Ledbetter’s “What Drives Winning.” This book focuses on character skills that sports should teach athletes, and why they oftentimes don’t because of our focus on outcomes.
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