Sports have long been used as metaphors for life. Truth is, participating in sports really can teach a lot of truths that apply in every facet of life.
Take my son and his first season of T-Ball, for example. Hadley was so excited to start playing on a team. He didn’t really understand the ins and outs of baseball. All he knew was that he wanted to play. I asked him to follow three rules every time he stepped on the field: keep your eye on the ball (concentrate), try your very best at all times, and have fun. Over the course of the season I saw 13 strangers grow into friends and teammates. I watched Hadley grow in his self-confidence as he hit home runs and learned to play first base. And I beamed with pride when he said his favorite part was shaking hands with the other team after the game because he liked “having good friendship.”
Or I can look at my own running career. Running has certainly taught me that you get out of something what you put into it. I look back at my best half marathon, and I know that I trained well for that race. I ate right, ran my weekly mileage, and got in a lot of good cross training. On race day, I was the lightest I have been in years. I felt great that day, confident and ready. And when I crossed the finish line almost 10 minutes faster than my goal, I was ecstatic.
At some point after that race, I got complacent. Or cocky. Or maybe a bit of both. I started thinking I didn’t have to eat right all the time. I figured I could get by with one cross-training workout a week. In other words, I lost my resolve.
I have been reminded of that word this week as I have gotten started on my resolutions for the year. Losing weight, writing more frequently, lowering my golf score. Whatever the specific goal is, the key to success in the same: Resolve. You have to create an environment where you want the goal more than anything else that would come along to distract you.
When I run, it’s that moment when my mind is trying to tell my body it better slow down before I run out of breath or get hurt. If I can tune out that voice in my head, I can keep on running. But once that voice in my head steals my resolve, my run becomes a series of slow sprints linked together by long walks. That’s not getting me anywhere fast.
It’s like trying to write while sitting in front of the TV. It will steal my resolve in the blink of an eye. It’s why golfers allow themselves only one “swing thought.”
I’m not saying that I am dedicating my entire year to one single goal. Far from it. I’m just saying that sports have taught me that to be successful, I need to add two new rules to that list I gave Hadley: be intentional, and be present in the current moment.