Participation in sports provides a great opportunity to test the waters of competition, overcome challenges and manage change. Growing through these dynamics is a must if one is to maximize the opportunity in front of them. Often, athletes train to improve skills, work hard to improve strength and speed, however, they neglect the training that is required to grow through the resistance, discomfort and disappointment that competition brings.
Success in a competitive environment not only requires the evolution and mastery of skills, but also, the capacity to work together with others, receive feedback and coaching, manage and experience discouragement, struggle, and disappointment. Because competition creates environments where equally skilled and talented athletes seek to test their skills against each other, challenge becomes a consistent theme in the life of an athlete accompanied by change. Change happens because situations may dictate that athletes be asked to fulfill different roles and these roles may be different than what has been experienced prior. All this is to say that the landscape of sports INCLUDES the opportunity to COMPETE, as well as, manage and grow through CHALLENGE and CHANGE. Unfortunately, growth does not just happen. Athletes need to be equipped with strategies in order to grow through these 3 C’s.
To that end I offer these (3) triggers for growth:
The first trigger is to work to develop a more effective PERSPECTIVE. Our perspective can become lazy, unfocused and under developed. Much like a physical skill without continued focus and work it can begin to lag behind as others are moving forward and gaining greater mastery. Your perspective should always be a focus of improvement. Here are (3) questions you can ask yourself in order to improve and strengthen the quality of your perspective:
- How can I use the circumstances I am currently dealing with to get better?
- What is my picture of success and what do I have to do to create the picture?
- Say to yourself: I know I can take any situation and turn it into a stepping stone of success.
When athletes pay attention to their PERSPECTIVE and actively seek to improve and strengthen it they are better able to GROW through competition, challenge and change.
The second trigger is to be INTENTIONAL. Too many athletes live in fear and therefore, hold back because of the fear of failing. Nobody, exhibits power in their life without first understanding the importance of being intentional or on purpose. What this means is to begin each day with an internal picture and design about how you want the day to go. Facing competition, challenge and change insists that you move boldly towards it seeking to have an intentional stamp that you leave on the situation you are in.
Train yourself to think in this manner:
- Next time I face that situation I am going to_______.
- When I face that challenge in the future this is how I am going to approach and it________.
These types of statements put you in a place of power to affect the situation you are in and give you an incredible advantage.
The third trigger is to embrace the power of STRUGGLE. Put bluntly, struggle is where strength is created. Have you ever seen an athlete go into the gym and lift air? Why? Air provides no resistance and would keep us weak and underdeveloped. Growth truly requires us to embrace struggle so that we can be strengthened through it. To do this will require you to change your mind about struggle so that you are not interpreting struggle as a symptom of failure but a platform for future growth and success.
These triggers will add great value and benefit to you as you seek to grow through competitive moments, the challenges that come from competition, as well as, the change that often results from being involved in sports.
Let’s begin to actively and intentionally train ourselves to not simply be stronger physically but to match the mental skills needed to grow through any circumstance or situation.
This is when we truly become GREAT!