Sports On the Brain

I’ve been in sports since I knew I could be pretty good in sports. But, never knew why it was something I wanted to be in. I’ve played golf, soccer, basketball, track and field, and finally just long distance running. I also like to watch sports. Specially any kind of playoff game where two teams go head to head for all the marbles. But, again, never knew why. I think I figured it out.

Sports brings out the best in us. Whether that is from a perspective of a fan or from one of actually being on the field as the player. It also brings out our worst, which both perspectives we also like to see unfold. It can teach us about our love for the underdogs, which at any time can be us in our lives or others around us at any given time. Sports also teach us about a group mentality, teamwork, and what it can feel like when a team comes together for the win.

There are winners and losers in every game. Someone has to land in one or the other at the end of the day. We can learn a lot from either one. Even for a Cubs fan like me that weathered losses from the time he was born until a few years ago when they ended one of the biggest World Series win droughts in the history of the sport. Being in an underdog state of mind as a fan, represented an outcome that would be unlikely. Over the years though, I was there. Rooting the Cubbies on. Which made their World Series incredibly special when it was delivered. We root for the underdogs. We should be reminded when we are the underdog, there are others rooting for us too. We just need to look up to find them.

I’ve learned a lot in my following or playing of sports. As a player I got a first hand perspective in a case study in coaching. Sometimes the best players are the worst coaches. I’ve learned the curse of the expert first hand doesn’t always translate to someone that can lead teams towards the same success one had as an individual contributor. Michale Jordan was one of the best players in basketball history. I followed that dynasty closely. In 2001 he tried to be both a player and president of the Washington Wizards. It was a disaster. Not everyone could see things as clearly as he did and that did not translate well as president of the ball club. We have limits and just because we’re experts in the sport doesn’t mean we can be a great boss.

I’ve learned from sports how to control impulses and be more self-aware. Sports require split second decision making and I’ve done a lot of dumb things in those spilt decisions that we’re not good. I’ve learned these split decisions can win or lose a game. This can be easily applied to the stress in life or our business lives as well. Not wasting any time in making decisions on the fly can be a matter of winning the day or losing it. With these lessons I’ve become a master of never taking action simply for the sake of taking action. I choose with intent and purpose. I try to be present when the game is playing out while at the same time open to learning on the fly for what is happening in real time.

I’ve learned the power of praise in how it can improve the performance of those around me in my community or at work. I try not to base praise on achievement alone, but more in the efforts. This is where we get not just someone that could be a MVP, but also most improved player too. Teams that know you notice as a coach their efforts are noticed and appreciated will do more. Everyone loves the win, myself including. But, measuring both efforts and achievements together allows everyone to feel more successful. That creates a strong bond between all the players. It keeps egos in check.

Probably what I appreciate the most about sports was the lesson if taught me about overcoming adversity. I’ve learned a great business plan is like training for a marathon that should be strategic and precise. I need to think about long-term goals, what it will take to get there, and milestones that ensure I’m on pace to finish. I want to conserve and save my or my team’s energy for the hardest parts of the race to come. I’ve learned how powerful clear, measurable, and attainable goals are to success. I’ve learned how to pick myself up after a major setback along the way because I planned just for the right amount of effort along the way. I didn’t over use my people resources in one battle over another.

Not everyone plays or watches sports. I get that. But, if you can try, you can find a sport that is for you in just about anything. I don’t think back in the 80s when I was growing anyone would say e-sports would become a competitive sport, yet today we have e-sport athletes and teams.

A sport isn’t just something that is always physical. A good sport whatever it is I’ve read though, does something for your mental physical health. As a fan, the behavior of professional athletes and the coaches that lead them, give us important lessons or insights into our day-to-day lives.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to do or were curious about playing in a sport, but never did? Start there today. Learn about the history of it. The best players that ever played it. And, lastly the coaches that helped the players become the best at their sport of choice. Even starting with just that, can give you lots of insight to being a better you.

Thanks for reading. Not my typical post, but one that was on my mind. Hope you enjoyed it.

✌🏻 Shawn

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