"Focus"!!! "Relax"!!! "Work Harder"!!! These are just a few helpful items you may hear at a practice or at a competition. The reality is that if the athlete could focus or knew how to focus, you most likely wouldn't have to tell them. Sure, we all need reminders. The reality is that we assume that we are reminding others but the fact is that they probably don't know what to do in the first place. As a coach, I need to make sure that the athlete knows what "focusing" or "relaxing" or "working hard" really looks like and how to do them before I can remind them to do it. We assume that those around us know how to do what we may do fairly easily. The truth is that we need to be better at teaching how to perform desired behaviors or mindsets before we remind them to do them.
You can know the facts and even understand the concepts but you don't truly acquire wisdom until you appreciate the knowledge through action. For example, we know the facts that drinking alcohol will impair our reflexes and decision making skills and we can even understand that if we drink alcohol that it makes us feel different and less "normal", but we truly don't appreciate the fact that drinking is dangerous until we change our behavior by not getting behind the wheel or by avoiding a compromising situation. Appreciation requires a commitment through action and that is where wisdom is achieved.
As the famous quote says ... "To err is human, to blame others is even more human". I may have taken some liberties on that quote (sorry Alexander Pope). but I may not be far off from the truth. When things don't go our way, it is much easier to point fingers at others than to look at ourselves to see where we have responsibility. Responsibility is spelled with three "I"s in it and no "U"s. That should be a reminder that "I" need to look at my responsibility first, before pointing my finger at "You" and blaming you for lack of responsibility.
We all have people in our lives that frustrate us. They routinely make poor choices or fail to do the right thing. They have the capacity and the ability to be so much more than they currently are and we bang our heads against the wall asking ourselves "why won't they listen"? The answer is simple ... "Why don't we listen?" We all fail to make changes in our lives. We all fail to see the value in changing our behavior or our mindset. We all find it easier to point out how others are failing than to listen to others when they are trying to make us better. Most people fail to change because they don't see the value in making the change. We fail to change for the same reason. Instead of focusing on the behavior itself, we need to analyze what we value and use that to help ourselves and others to change. Our actions typically follow what we value. That is why love and money and other tangible rewards are such a effective source of motivation.
Ignorance can be defined as "not knowing" while Stupidity can be defined as "knowing something but not acting on that knowledge in the correct manner." If you know that drinking and driving is wrong and it can harm you and others, but you still drink and then drive, then you are stupid. If you have never been told that putting fish in a microwave at work will make the entire building stink and cause your co-workers to be angry with you, and you reheat some leftover salmon for lunch, then you are ignorant. Which begs the question, is it better to be stupid or ignorant? It is a trick question, as both are not desirable. You can control both. If you know something, then do your best to adhere to that knowledge. Also, realize that you can always learn and grow so seek knowledge and be open to learn from others to avoid being ignorant.
We often make the mistake of equating "finishing" to "sticking to our commitment and not quitting". Finishing is more than merely "not quitting". We often use "completing" interchangeably with "finishing". That is more accurate. When something is complete, it is fully finished or fully accomplished. We create a low bar or standard when we let people think that simply "doing something until the end" is the same as finishing or being complete. A runner can run a race and cross the line but it doesn't necessarily mean that they "finished" the race. They can slow down and "give up" during the race and still cross the line, which keeps it from being complete. A team can play an entire game until the time runs out or the last out is recorded but it doesn't necessarily mean that the team played hard with maximum effort until there were no plays remaining. Finishing refers to completing the task until it is done at the maximum effort. A gymnast finishes the landing when they stick it and fight to make sure that the judge sees that they stuck it. A batter finishes their at bat when they sprint through first base, regardless of whether they thought they would be safe or out. A student finishes a class when they study and do all that they can to achieve an "A" for their grade, and not merely a passing credit. We finish our life when we live it fully. Simply "not quitting" doesn't equate to living completely.
When we say "I don't have time" we are actually saying "I choose not to make the time". The truth is that we will find time for what we value. If we value sleep, we will find time to sleep and even to get 8 hours. If we value food or nourishment, we will make time in our schedule to eat. If we value socializing or playing or working out or studying or spending time with others, we will find the time to make those things happen. There are times in our lives that we are more busy than others but we will always make time for the things that matter most. If you have ever been so sick that you couldn't get out of bed or move, you found time to sleep and the items on your busy schedule either became less important or they were still there when you got better. Sleep in order to get better was the right choice and should be a lesson that we will always make time for what matters most.
We often equate growth with learning. The more we learn, the more we grow. However, we often underestimate the fact that we may learn new ideas but fail to put that knowledge into immediate practice so we forget the idea. Sometimes we don't need to learn something, we simply need to be reminded of something. Quite often, the difference between success and failure is not learning the right thing but it is failing to remember to do the right thing at the right time and for the right reason. Consistency is a valuable tool in most aspects of life and consistency is often a result of being reminded of what needs to be done.
We all make mistakes. As human beings, we lack the ability to be flawless. Our human nature is wired to fail and fall short of perfection (no matter what we may believe or read on a motivational poster). However, we have control over the frequency of our mistakes by following a couple simple rules. Rule #1: "Never make an important decision when you are sick or tired." We often are lead by emotions and even more so when we are sick or tired. We tend to choose the "easy answer" as compared to the correct answer. Rule #2: We rarely make good decisions between 10pm and 2am, especially when the lights are out. The reality is that the hours of 10-2 in the middle of the night are not the hours that the most pure activities take place, nor are we usually in our proper mindset due to fatigue or other environmental factors. When we make decisions in the middle of the night or when we are sick and/or tired, we typically increase the probability of mistakes.