Not Playing Sports? You Can STILL Be An Athlete

Posted: October 8, 2017 in Misc, Motivation

As athletes, we search for and live for that certain something that makes sports great. Each person’s desire and reason for competition may differ, and the list can be never-ending, but here are some personal examples:

-To overcome challenges against an opposition
-Being the “under dog” and finding a way to win
-The constant preparation for game day
-To do something you were told you couldn’t
-Have a sense of belonging to a team

Eventually that day comes when we can no longer compete or be victorious at something. So what do you do?! That’s the inevitable question that many of us are asked without having an answer. Now there are some people out there that can take that same competition mindset, or what I have called “The Athlete State of Mind”, and transition it over to real world applications. BUT, there are some that can’t. This leads to the question of, “What do we do?”

After 17 years of playing football my time came when I was done with football. I struggled with this transition and searched for something to fill that void and empty feeling that sports gave me. Over the past few years, I have developed some-what of a personal philosophy or personal creed to help with this. I had come to the realization that I would no longer be competing in athletics on a regular basis like I was raised and taught to do. But with this new way of thinking, I would be able to work towards something as if I was still competing. I explain it to people like this: being an athlete is a state of mind. And it only involves a handful of rules to live by:

A – Accountable. This one is at the top and listed first for a reason. When you are done with sports and your teammates are not there to make sure you do your part, you have to become personally accountable. Whether it is with family, friends, group commitments or your profession, no one is going to hold your hand to make sure the job gets done.
*You are the only one that can ensure you do your part.
T – Thorough. Being thorough on the field and in preparation comes natural when you are dealing with sports. If you want to win, you have to make sure all your X’s and O’s are in order. You have to plan for any circumstance and all scenarios so you don’t lose. When the “real world” comes along, the worst case scenario is not just a notch in the loss column, it can mean a loss of your job, loss of responsibilities and even lost opportunities.
*The details carry much more weight.
H – Hungry. Being “hungry” has many meanings when it comes to athletes but as an adult, it means something very specific. Always being hungry for something more is a must. Never being satisfied is a great motivator as it drives you to continue on and be better. When I was competing, it was always for the championship, setting new records or getting that starting position over someone else. It was always sink or swim. In the professional world, it is also sink or swim and can make the difference between doing something great or just being average. Set the bar high for yourself and give yourself something to work towards.
*Be hungry for more.
L – Learn. This one is a great one to live by on a day-to-day, hour to hour and minute to minute basis. Whatever industry you are in, no matter your title or position, you HAVE to continue to learn. Practicing your sport everyday is a sure-fire way to ensure an improved skill set. And that still holds true for when you are working because learning anything and everything about your job will end up being the difference maker between you and your co-worker (competitor).
*Make sure you arm yourself with all the necessary tools to succeed.
E – Efficient. Yet again, here is an important one to remember and make sure to implement. This one can directly impact your productivity and therefore your overall success. It’s easiest to first understand how it relates to sports. As athletes, time management is of the utmost importance. Finding a balance between breaking down your practice film, analyzing the opponent, the multi-hour practices, weight training and recovery is, and always will be, the priority. If we spend too much time on one aspect, unfortunately, another aspect will suffer. For instance, if you’re a quarterback and you work on your throwing motion and timing with receivers, then you’re NOT spending the required time on understanding the defense. You can throw a perfect spiral and a long ball but if the defenders are always there defending the passes, your completion rate will suffer. There is NEVER going to be enough time in the day for everything but if we can be as efficient as possible, our “completion percentage” will improve. As I get older, I realize that there is even less time available. So as you go through the day, you must prioritize to be as efficient as possible. Time management and prioritizing are synonymous with efficiency.
*Efficiency leads to productivity.
T – Try. When I talk to people about this one, there is not much that needs to be said because it is self-explanatory. In order to succeed, you must try. Whether that means trying something new or trying something for the 100th time, you must give it a go.
*You can NEVER achieve or succeed at anything if you don’t try.
E – Exceed (Expectations). If you think about it, goals, benchmarks and even records are here for a reason. That is our way to gauge and track progress. In a way, they also differentiate average from awesome. As an athlete, I definitely never wanted to be just average. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being the 3rd, 4th or 5th best player on the team. In fact, in the NBA, they give an award for the best 6th man on a team. It’s all about knowing your role and doing it the best you can. Exceed YOUR OWN expectations is how I look at it. Regardless of how talented you are or what place you rank, you should always aim to improve. Set personal goals and do EVERYTHING on this list in order to exceed YOUR expectations. As I mentioned before, records, wins and stats are good but that is comparing your success to others so first, you should compare you to you.
*You should Always be better than the you were yesterday.

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