In life, it is my belief that there are two things you can control in any given situation – your EFFORT and your ATTITUDE. This concept speaks true to everything in your life – from your school work to your sport, even to your relationships with others and yourself. No matter the circumstance, the only two things you have control over is the effort and attitude which you put forth.
Often times when speaking on a topic such as this, it is difficult for the athlete sitting in the crowd to truly absorb this concept without providing some meaningful metaphorical connection. Here is an example for you to use while reading the rest of this article:
You are trying out for a sports team. Due to the competitive nature of the team, you must be invited to try out. You go to that tryout to find yourself 1 of 50 athletes trying out for two teams. There is a mix of athletes who have participated with that same team before and some who are trying out for the first time. The individuals trying out for these teams are very talented and you were selected to be one of these individuals.
You see with competition (whether against another team or within a team) comes with one guarantee, there will be those who win and those who lose, and SOMETIMES YOU WILL LOSE. There it is! Not sugar coated, not gentle, and certainly not deceitful. Start understanding now rather than later that there will be players on both sides of this battle.
So now that you have read that and it is hopefully beginning to sink in, let’s explain what you may be feeling.
Immediately some of you will feel this heat rise inside of you as this incredible wave of stress ripples over you and fear engulfs your conscious thoughts. You begin to experience fear of failure; you begin to use “what if” statements, (‘What if I don’t make it?’ or ‘What if I don’t start?’) or even worse, you begin to give these statements life by justifying them (‘Well, this is only my first year trying out’ or ‘They were on the team last year so I don’t stand a chance’). All of this floods your mind at amazing speeds, so fast you can’t even stop them from cascading on top of each other and before you know it, they have formulated a new self-image.
On the other hand, there are those of you who feel comfortable in your position on the team. You graze over this entire document with little interest, with an attitude of almost superiority as if the concepts discussed are beneath you and are truly meant to just impact those who are not at your level. While this could be a one-off occurrence and potentially just an oversight, it likely is not. You see, it’s likely not just an oversight and more of an apparent pattern that is occurring because we are what we repeatedly do and this transfers across all domains (academics, sport, relationships, etc.). Thus, it is likely that with many of these topics and even perhaps with this article, you may be reached on the surface or your interest is mildly peaked. But, like many things in life you take the opportunity for sacrifice for granted, this too will pass you by.
You see, both these athletes are experiencing a lack of control over one of their two controllable’s (attitude and effort). As a result, this will begin to affect their effort, which in turn, affects their performance. But in this current scenario, all is okay with the world, right? I mean look, PLAYER A did what they were supposed to do…they conceded before even competing against PLAYER B. And for PLAYER B, they are fine to keep forgoing the opportunity for sacrifice and just continue plugging along as their complacent selves.
But what if there is a shift that occurs? What if PLAYER A takes heed to this article? What if they decide to internalize their focus? What if they push twice as hard and become comparable to PLAYER B? What if they shock everyone and become better? PLAYER B is screwed because they have lost that understanding for sacrifice, for hunger, for competition because they were satisfied with their position and per history, nobody was coming for their spot. EXCEPT PLAYER A JUST CAME AND TOOK IT!
My intent is not to make this feel like a David and Goliath talk or underdog and favorite discussion. The purpose was to show you how to poorly adapted attitudes have spiraled into creating an immensely damaging team environment! PLAYER A stepping up and taking PLAYER B’s role is great and all, but only if PLAYER B was trying like hell to keep that from happening. The goal is not to lay down to a teammate, it strengthens them as you are both forged through fire as opposed to through chanced opportunity and complacency.
Thus, as a team, as individuals, we must focus on our attitudes and effort towards everything in life, for it is these two controllable’s that will shape our future.