The "Flight or Fight" response is a physiological reaction to a perceived harmful event. In other words, our BODY gets full of adrenaline so it can either run away from the charging saber-tooth tiger or stand and fight the big kitty. Our body has been conditioned to react to fear. Fear, however, is an emotional response to a perceived danger or harm. That emotional response exists because of the lack of trust. When we trust ourselves or others, we don't perceive events as being harmful to us. Few people have fear about sitting in a chair as they trust the chair will hold them. Many people fear public speaking because they don't trust how the audience will respond to what they say and/or they don't trust their own ability to deliver a coherent message. We need to identify our fear and learn to control them by understanding what it is that we don't trust in the situation. When we can understand the psychological response to fear and control it, we can then allow the physiological response to help us to FIGHT and not FLIGHT. Allow fears to be a fire that fuels you and propels you forward and upward, but don't allow fear to be a fuel that burns you up.
There is a solution to every problem - The biggest problem is that we may not like the solution.
In March of 2018, everyone's bracket was busted on the first day. How does a #16 seed beat a #1 overall seed? Sports Happens. How do 15 lower ranked teams beat higher ranked teams out of 48 total games (nearly 1/3)? Sports Happens. How does a US curling team or a US Hockey team win the Gold medal when it was said it would be a "Miracle"? How does a team down 25 points come back in the second half to win a Super Bowl? How does someone drain a putt from 100 feet and in the next hole miss a 4 foot gimme? Sports Happen. Sports are a part of life and in life, nothing is guaranteed. How does a virus shut down the world? Stuff Happens. Life is full of countless variables and many of them we are not in the position to control. However, we do have control of our attitude. We have the choice to control our attitude DURING a situation and we have the ability to respond with the proper attitude AFTER the situation. When we enter into any situation, we need to control those things that we can control and then pray about the rest.
Success! Victory! Achievement! Winning! Peak Performance! Reaching your Full Potential! All of these goals are worth pursuing. Four words that are often cited as being essential to the accomplishment of these goals: Composure. Concentration. Confidence. Commitment. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself on these four important skills? Composure: How much self control do you have during practice and competition? Concentration: How well are you able to focus on the task at hand during practice and competition? Confidence: How much do you trust/believe in your ability to perform a given task in practice or competition? Commitment: How willing and able are you to press through adversity and "stick with it" during a practice and competition? All four of these skills will help us to be Competitive. Competitive people enter competition with the attitude to win. Competitive people do not enter into a competition with the attitude that they hope that they don't lose. There is a huge difference between "playing to win" compared to "playing not to lose". How can you improve on each of these four skills (composure, concentration, confidence, commitment) today so you can be more competitive tomorrow?
Goals are meant to give you direction and to motivate you to work toward achieving that goal. Goals give us reminders of what is important to us and help us to stay on track. Achievement of the goals themselves are not meant to be the purpose of life. The journey is much more important than the destination. No one gets on a roller coaster with the goal of getting it over with as soon as possible. We all want the ride to last longer. The up and downs of the roller coaster ride are what make us scream and get a huge adrenaline rush. When the roller coaster stops, we head to the exit. The ride is over. Most of the time, we want to run back to the line to ride again. We must set goals. Work toward those goals. Put your hands up in the air and scream your head off as you enjoy the ride! However, if all you want to do is to achieve goals so you can check boxes off on your "to do list", then you may as well just skip the ride and walk over directly to stand at the exit.
One of the challenges of being young is the inability to completely appreciate the concept of time. For those who are much older and who have lived life, there are two profound realizations about time:
Realization #1 - When we are young, we feel there is an infinite amount of time. We have our whole life ahead of us. There are many more days to come than the amount of days we have already lived. We feel that we will always have the time to do certain things, to accomplish goals and dreams and to even say the things we want to say to the people that we want to say them to. This is why procrastination is more often found in young people than in the older folks. Those who have lived life have realized that time tends to pass us by much more quickly than we anticipate, and they see the time they have wasted. They realize that seasons are only 3 months long and it takes a another nine for that season to return.
Realization #2 - When we are young, we feel that every single second matters and if we waste one moment, we will never get it back and we will never make it up. If I get sick and miss a day of practice, I will never get that day back and I will never reach my goals. If I miss out on this one experience with friends, it will never be made available again (FOMO). This is why we see younger people rushing around much more than older folks. We think this is the case because older people are slow and frail. This may be partially true but what is more accurate is that those with experience have rushed around themselves and have finally realized that it is a waste of energy. We realize that seasons come and seasons go but they eventually come back around again and sometimes the next season is better than the previous year.
The Point - As we get older, we realize that both of our youthful assumptions about time have some element of truth but there needs to be a balance. Time is finite, so we need to make a conscious effort to take advantage of the opportunities that we have and although making the most of time matters, it doesn't matter as much as we think, so if we miss something, we must be content and know that every moment isn't a "make or break" moment in time.
Ask someone who is much older than you about their past and you will be amazed how they remember some facts and experiences as if they occurred yesterday and they will actually be 100% accurate. At the same time, that same person will find it difficult to accurately remember facts from experiences yesterday. And then there is the common occurrence that happens to us all where we remember past experiences and accomplishments a little differently than they actually occurred. We remember school to be much harder or much easier than it actually was. Athletic accomplishments are usually much better than they actually were. Our times are faster and distances further. The snow and the hills that we had to travel to attend school where much deeper and steeper than they actually were. Life in general was much harder or easier than it actually was. Time erodes memory. Our memory doesn't hold on to the truth as much as we assume it does. This is to our benefit when it comes to unpleasant experiences that we want to forget. That is why the phrase "time heals all wounds" is a comfort to us all However, time also erodes our memory and we forget how hard we worked to get to where we are now. We need to constantly remind our-self how hard we worked and how much time we have devoted to our training that has helped us to get where we are now. That memory should give you a strong confidence. And after you remember how hard you have worked and how much you have accomplished, you need to take that knowledge and make the decision to work even harder and smarter so that you may improve even more.
Choice. We have choice. After a practice or competition or test, a student-athlete can respond in a multitude of ways. If they perform well, they can be happy and satisfied and not see any need to change what they are doing (not a great choice). If they perform poorly, they can become self-consumed and focus on the disappointing result or goal not met and allow the performance to negatively impact their future practices, competitions or exams (not a great choice). Then there are those (these are the successful people) who see competition and practice and exams as one more step in a very long staircase that takes them upward toward their goals. A successful step gets us closer to our goal but that doesn't make the rest of the steps any easier or already achieved. (it is a staircase and not an escalator) All steps are equal and one step merely brings you to another equal step. So ... What did we learn from that successful step and how can we use that to make the next step even better and also successful? And when we do find ourselves slipping or stumbling on the step (it happens), do we forget about all of the progress we have made up the staircase? Do we go limp and lay on that step or even worse, allow ourselves to slide all the way down to the bottom of the staircase? Or ... do we realize that this was a small moment in time and only one step of many and we get up and take another step forward and upward. Getting better requires responding appropriately to both successes and failures. We can and should learn from both.
We have all watched the runner finish the race and throw their hands in the air in victory. They are excited. The spectators cheer and politely clap in recognition of the effort and success of the single runner. In contrast, we watch a basketball player sink the last second three pointer and the team erupts off the bench and tackles the shooter while the fans rush the court. Winning alone is fun. Winning as part of a team is often much more. Life is better when shared with others. Life is more fun when we can do what we love along side people we love. The quality of life is multiplied when the number of people involved is multiplied. There is a reason why we curl up in a ball and into the fetal position and want to shut everything out when we are sick or tired. And there is a reason that when we win or when we are excited, we throw our arms in the air and jump up and down as if we are inviting anyone around to join us. Life is better when life is lived with others. Be intentional about living life today with others ... at least 6 feet away!