I had originally scheduled a different post for today, but during my sweaty hot yoga sesh this morning, inspiration struck and I decided to switch gears and write about something that can get kind of heavy sometimes. And it might ruffle a few people’s’ feathers, but as Jen Hatmaker says,
…if every reader always loves every word you ever write, I mean this nicely, but you are not writing anything that interesting.
During yoga this morning, I was working hard on a specific pose that I had never tried before. Basically it was a chin-stand with blocks. The guys and gals around me were kicking their legs up high, or holding a modified pose to improve their balance. As I was trying to convince myself to try the full chin-stand, I kept worrying about what the others around me would think when I didn’t hit it.
Yes, I am 26-years-old and I still let other people’s’ thoughts and judgements affect me, often. It is a constant
struggle journey to free myself from caring about what others think. But that is another post entirely.
What really struck me this morning was how my competitiveness reared its ugly head and I thought, “If I’m not The Best, then what I’m doing doesn’t even matter.”
Well that’s obviously ridiculous.
Every single person in that room was attempting to be their best. And that is the most important aspect of training.
Growing up, I played a lot of sports. (And this is where people will probably disagree.) I am not saying that all sports are bad, or that all coaches are narcissistic jerks, or that all athletes are egotistical. But often, unfortunately, I have found many times that sports in general award and strive for winning and being The Best. The Best is much different that being the best version of yourself. Coaches push you to win, not improve. Teammates shun you for mistakes, rather than encourage you to practice and do better next time.
According to the NCAA, in a study conducted in 2011,
Athletes can sometimes end up feeling controlled by the very rewards they are pursuing, which may undermine their raw desire to participate in their sport and create a sense of being trapped, potentially fueling burnout.
Rather than trying to be The Best, people could compete and train to be the best version of themselves. This causes people to compete with themselves, rather than those around them. If a high school tennis player loses a match, but knows she played her absolute best, then she will be satisfied and congratulatory to the other competitor. But this is not always the case. Often, athletes see their loss (or win) as a reason to be malicious to other athletes.
Back in the day, I was the worst of the worst when it came to being unsportsmanlike and thought that winning was the only indicator of growth. But training to be the best version of myself, and competing with my own abilities, brings much more satisfaction than my old mindset.
Am I saying that sports are evil and kids shouldn’t be encouraged to join them? No. But, I do think there is room for a reform to how and why coaches and athletes do what they do. Rather than encouraging competitiveness with others, we should compete with ourselves.
This idea also goes into other areas of life. When you are competing against other applicants for a job, the best way to show your worth is by improving your own experiences. Because at the end of the day, the employer wants someone who can do the job.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, mindset is everything. Being intentional with your training, and focusing on improvement rather than perfection, will bring much more satisfaction and growth than having to be The Best.
What are your thoughts on organized sports? Do you have a specific example that comes to mind where you focused more on yourself than external factors? I would love to hear it!
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