Archive for June, 2011
So I’ve been around the track and field world, professional athletes, and Olympic caliber athletes in multiple sports for quite a few years now. How many? lol I think I’m nearing the age where I’m supposed to start lying about it.
Flat out, the qualities in athletes (former, current, athlete supporters, those who are a part of it) are unfortunately a rarity. Spending more and more time in the “real” world, I see the big distinction between personality traits. I’ve realized traits that I have taken for granted, have expected are not so common in day to day life. It takes a special breed of person to be successful, to dedicate oneself to greatness, to sacrifice time and energy. And I’m not just talking about current athletes, I’m talking about current, former, people who may not be athletes themselves but dedicate large portions of time, energy to sports.
It’s funny with my recent adventure in trying to find work and not getting an interview or the time of day for months, because I think the qualities I’ve honed over the years and bring to the table from my athletic background make me a great addition and I should be a sought after worker to any work environment. The dumb jock and lazy athlete are stereotypes that don’t exist at this level.
Now, first, I’m not saying only quality people are in sports, because certainly there are amazing people who have never had the desire for sports (and I’ve been fortunate to meet many!). Also, I’m not saying everyone in sports are higher quality, because yes, there are those who are self serving, and perhaps dishonest, or not a good person, but for the most part some of the best people I know are/were in or around sports.
So I ask myself what is it that sets them a part and why is that? Many of these are related and certainly there are more, but I thought I would just add a few of my favorite qualities I’ve learned and see in athletes.
From athletics we know about problem solving. We decide we want something and the first thing we do is find out how we can do it or get it. We make a plan. If there is an obstacle or problem, we find a way to fix it or get around it. We spend most of our careers working on solutions and putting our time and energy into finding them.
This apparently is not normal. Many people I meet in my day to day life when confronted with a problem either give up (immediately or eventually) or lead with an excuse. An excuse to the problem!?! There isn’t (or isn’t very long) a thought process of getting around it or solving it, but an excuse why it can’t be done. If we as athletes before setting goals dwelled on all the reason it couldn’t be done, we wouldn’t accomplish anything.
I think this quality is very apparent in individual sports where you are the one who wins or loses, but this is a quality I really respect. We take responsibility. If we don’t have our priorities straight and miss a workout, we take responsibility. If we go to a meet and falter, we take responsibility. The very nature of following this life style is taking on a responsibility of representing your country, your school, your town, etc.
This quality follows us in everything we do. And once again, a quality I wish I saw more of in the day to day world. If there is an issue, taking responsibility for your part is the first step in solving something or making sure it doesn’t happen again.
The very nature of being in sports or near sports is setting goals. We want to succeed, we want something better and we work towards that. I couldn’t imagine doing anything in life half-way or settling. If I’m a fry cook at McDonald’s, I will be the best damn fry cook you’ve ever seen.
There are so many people who feel stuck or a victim of circumstance. They go through the motions and yet there are no goals to change and no movement or decisions to change. True not everyone can get up and get in their cars every year when they’re not happy, but we all have choices and if we really want something, we can set a goal and make a plan to achieve it.
This is a huge thing. Prioritizing is about time, money, energy. As athletes we know all about having to give and sacrifice, but we also know everything is finite from how much money we have and how much time we can give to things. This is a quality built from necessity. We know if we want to have enough energy to do our practice and recover, we can’t go out the night before. We know if we are going to be working and need to fit in working out, that might mean waking up earlier or going to bed later. We know if it cost this much money to pay for our track season, that money will have to be taken from other things that maybe aren’t necessities. We budget our time, energy, and money all year.
It’s amazing to me seeing people complain they don’t have time or money and yet do nothing to fix it. Sure, lol, I complain a lot but I’m constantly trying to find a way to fix it. I save money by not doing anything or buying anything, I cut my hair in my toilet at home, I don’t go out often, I eat at home, I don’t get pedis and manis, 90% of my wardrobe was given to me. I also work, sometimes I get the formula right and work enough so I can still train and pay the bills and sometimes I don’t work enough or over work.
I’m talking about people who don’t understand the need for sacrifice. They complain they don’t have money for this, yet do nothing to budget. They claim they don’t have time or energy for something, but do nothing to switch the schedule or sacrifice something to make time and energy. There are choices for everything, you just need to make them.
Hard work, effort:
Hard work is perhaps one of the biggest qualities developed and seen in athletes. And I’m not just talking about physical, though I wish people would stop saying that working out is easy for us. We work really hard, and it’s still hard every minute we do it, we just don’t give up. It’s hard to wake up at 6am for us just as it is for you, but we just do it.
I’m speaking of hard work in anything. We know what it takes to give yourself to something, to sacrifice. We have all given all that we thought we could, and then asked for more from ourselves. There is no minimum. And once again, this quality is seen in everything. We are hard workers and we know how to ask more from ourselves to accomplish incredible things. If it is asked of us, and there is a way, it can and will be done.
The more I get in the real world, the more I feel out of step. It bothers me to see people act helpless, to give up, to not try, or blame their problems on others. It bothers me to hear people complain about how life gave them the crappy end of the stick and yet do nothing to better themselves.
I hold myself to high standard and I give of myself to everything I do and everyone who is in my life. And for some crazy reason after being around such a high quality of people for the last 15 years, I’ve sort of expected it form those around me and have found this is not normal. WE ARE NOT NORMAL! lol
So what does this mean? I don’t know. This was mostly a rant. I’m not going to change. I have higher expectations of myself and will bring that to every relationship I have and every job in the future. I’ll be more vigilant and understand that is not the norm so it won’t be so devastating and disappointing. But I’m happy I hold myself to this standard, I’m happy I learned all that I have, I’m very pleased with the person I’ve become.
I think the future will hold good things for me because of this.
Everyone knows that being a part of athletics was never about following the well beaten path in the first place.