Sports are more than a billion dollar industry. They’re more than a hobby, more than a profession, or even an event. For many, they are the foundation in which we build our personal character and work ethic. It would be impossible to calculate the amount of time I dedicated in a gym, on a field, or even in the backyard playing catch with dad.
At the time, I was simply playing a game I loved. Not aware of the influences my coaches made or the lessons they instilled. At 26, I’ve faced endless obstacles, endured multiple failures while appreciating every accomplishment along the way. Sports prepared me for the wins and losses of an adult, the heartbreak of defeat and the joy of victory.
Most importantly, the lessons I learned throughout my sports career transitioned right into the real world even after I pealed my jersey off for the last time. Believe it or not, wins and loses are still recorded in offices, classrooms, and business meetings. Here are a few reasons you may keep ending up short.
1. You’re Not Aware You’re Actually In a Race
One of the saddest realizations of society is our disinterest and acknowledgement of competition. Somewhere we decided competitiveness is a dangerous characteristic to possess. We’re now encouraged that our will to win shouldn’t overpower our bravery to participate. In truth, success isn’t reached without winning or losing. There’s no greater measurement of accomplishment than competition. No one has ever accidentally won, in anything.
2. Your Focus Never Leaves the Back of the Person In-Front of You.
The words compete and compare should never be confused. Those who compare never take their eyes off the person in front of them, gloating and constantly questioning why that person is ahead. Competitors don’t waste time or energy worrying about others. They are strictly focused on improving themselves, doing whatever it takes to reach their full potential. The finish line is all they acknowledge, not the people they pass along the way.
3. You Second Guess Whether or Not You Belong
It’s natural to look around at your peers, comparing yourself to them. There are going to be people who are smarter, stronger, faster, but you should never question your place in a race. You’re there for a reason and you have every opportunity to win as they do. Underdog isn’t a self-proclaimed label; others who aren’t around to witness the work you put in to prepare for the race give it.
4. The Sweat Dripping Down Your Face Becomes a Distraction
Every time you wipe the sweat from your forehead you lose a step. Let the sweat drip. Each drop is evidence of all the hard work you’ve put in. Wear them proudly without advertising. We now live in an age in which social media allows us to boast and over-glorify being, “busy”. Everyone sweats, but for different reasons. Bust your ass to be admired, not to be envied.
5. You Don’t Properly Prepare
My coaches and more specifically my father always stressed the importance of practicing in game speed. Maintain a routine and treat every practice as your last game. Take care of your body, rest your mind, and envision success before you even arrive at the starting block. It’s crucial to understand the race actually begins long before the gun goes off.
6. You Think the Gold is Most Important
The greatest don’t just win, they are dominant. This is because simply winning isn’t enough for them. They want to break records, personal and world. When you make a goal as basic as, “winning”, you allow yourself to play down to the competition, leaving room for lapses and mental breakdowns. Focusing solely on materialistic objects that culturally signify success blurs your vision for what actually creates legends.
7. You’re Afraid of the Podium
Believe it or not, some people are actually petrified of success. They have become comfortable with failure because all except one fill that role when the race is finished. The exclusivity of success and loneliness at the top discourages most from striving for 1st. A certain amount of responsibility comes with triumph. Don’t allow the fear of the unknown keep you from getting over the hump.
8. You’d Rather LOOK Like a Champion
Appearance has become such a glorified aspect that we often believe it is the most important. Your appearance doesn’t change perception, but a champion eventually looks the part. No one remembers how great the losers looked, because at the end of the day the lasting image is of the person who breaks the finish line first. Success is a wardrobe purchased with hard work, belief and an ounce of luck. Consider rearranging your closet.