Like many I was fortunate to have been introduced to sport at an early age, and I remain thankful for the lessons learned and the many ways these experiences prepared me for life…
1. Persistence. At the age of ten I was introduced to the great sport of rugby. Lacking any concept of the game, or knowledge of the rules, I ended up throwing a forward pass in my first ever organized game. But despite my early struggles, and lack of innate talent I continued to play – eventually discovering my competitive spirit and a love of the sport.
Persistence may not predict success, but giving up guarantees failure.
2. Commitment. In High School my parents were no longer able to drive me to rugby games on weekends due to the challenges of running a small farm. Rather than quit, and let down my team-mates, I began riding my push-bike the six miles into town to be able to continue to play. By the end of the season I had achieved a fitness level that I still aspire to.
Commitment can be the fuel that focuses our efforts.
3. Integrity. It was in sport that I learned not everyone shares the same values or principles, and that for some winning was everything. I was taught early the difference between playing ‘hard’ and playing ‘dirty’, and the importance of always playing ‘my’ game. And it was through sport that I began to see the parallels between how players conducted themselves on and off the field.
Consistency is key, but integrity IS everything.
4. Attitude. Team sports also taught me the importance of attitude. I had some team mates that were always upbeat – while others quickly became deflated when on the losing end of a score. I saw how team mates with positive attitudes energized and inspired those around them. While positivity didn’t guarantee winning, it sure made the ‘games’ much more enjoyable to play.
Attitude is contagious – be careful what you catch.
5. Teamwork. I had always thought that rugby had prepared me for working with others, but it wasn’t until I learned to row did I understand how integral teamwork was sometimes for success. In rowing, effective teamwork requires complete synchronicity with your team – which for me reinforced the importance of understanding the nature of your team, and your role in supporting your team mates.
There are people that are organized into teams, and then there are teams of people.
6. Trust. In many sports trust is critical to success – whether trust in a team mate or in a coach. And in many sports a lack of trust in a team mate’s ability to play his/her position results in others not being able to fully commit to theirs – while in others trust is a matter of life and death. Rock climbing is where I came to truly appreciate the significance of complete trust – both in the process, as well as in my climbing partner’s knowledge and experience.
Life is not an individual sport – trust is a must.
7. Accountability. When I participated in, or competed in any sport I did so with the support of others – such as my parents, coaches, and team mates – and it was through their support that I initially learned the importance of being accountable. However, it was only through the process of learning how to swim, and through training for my first triathlon that I truly understand the importance of being accountable to myself. There are many times when we need to invest 100% of our effort and energy despite nobody watching.
Be accountable for the life you want – we get what we give.
8. Patience. Although I was introduced to the sport of boxing very late, it, like many of my endeavors came at the right time in my life. In one of my very first sparring sessions with my trainer – who had been a Flyweight Champion in his youth – I became frustrated at my inability to land a single punch. I learned quickly that anger and uncontrolled aggression don’t belong in a ring, and on the need often to ‘wait’ for the right opportunities to present themselves.
Patience provides us with possibilities.
9. Passion. While it is interest that gets many of us started in sports – it is passion that sustains us. While in High School I was also introduced to competitive logger sports by my father – who loved both the industry and the sport. And while I continued to compete for several years because of our relationship, it was eventually my lack of passion (and putting an axe into my shin) that caused me to stop.
Our full potential requires all of our passion.
10. Fun. We often play games and sports as children because they’re ‘fun’, and sometimes move onto different games or sports when we no longer enjoy them. I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed a variety of sports and activities throughout my life, and have learned that sometimes it isn’t the game itself that is fun – but instead is our ability to have ‘fun’ playing it.
Fun is sometimes more about the how than the what.
Life is like a game – with a start, a middle, and an end. It is up to each of us how we play it…