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Edition #228: The Value of Things Not Going According to Plan.
The joy of winning and succeeding is celebrated all the time, but most don’t experience that as much as disappointment during the journey.
Welcome to edition #228 of The Physical Movement, as we are on the eve celebrating another Halloween. This week we address something scary ourselves, the concept of things not going according to plan!
Let’s dive in.
While our culture constantly celebrates winning and congratulates those who are able to come out on top in competition, the best lessons from sport happen when things don’t go well.
While nothing matches the feeling of setting a goal, working as a team, coming out the victor, and should be experienced by all who participate, the deeper lessons come from the journey when things don’t go according to plan.
You don’t have to look far in any sporting event to identify bumps in the road:
As a player, just about everyone faces one or more of the below:
· Don’t make the team of choice.
· Strike out multiple times in a row.
· Suffer an injury or get sick that limits ability to play.
· Commit and error or mistake in critical time
· Don’t execute to your potential at an important time
These commonalities listed above are not mapped out when we start, but they do happen. Often.
Recent Major League Baseball playoff action has highlighted a few where we see disappointment just before success.
Adolis Garcia had 4 strike outs in ALCS for Texas Rangers before going 4 for his next 6 at bats with 3 home runs. What? Do any of our kids have the mental makeup to keep battling after 4 strikeouts and not pout?
We don’t always get the immediate turn around!
Bryce Harper, future hall of fame baseball player after not getting a key hit when he had the chance in a deciding game with runners in scoring position for Phillies in attempting to get to World Series.
Knowing the nature of this athlete, my guess is this disappointment will fuel his training an focus to be better next time.
In fact, immediately after this tough loss, Harper vows to be back.
“But we will be back. It just devastates me. I let the city down. I need to come through in that moment,” were the bold collection of words that Bryce Harper dropped after they had lost with a two-to-four scoreline.
Did you see the David Beckham documentary on Netflix ?
Anyone in sport should watch and digest how one of the best players of his generation was unfairly treated by fans and media for a mishap during a critical World Cup game in 1998.
The mistreatment is no joke. In fact, cruel and bordering on inhumane.
Equally, his ability to persevere and overcome was world class and a great example of elite mental strength to go along with his physical skills.
See more on the David Beckham treatment below.
The coaching side is often no easier, except we have the perspective of anticipating bumps in the road and things not going according to plan.
If you have coached even 1 short season of youth sport, you don’t have to think long or hard about obstacles.
· Key player(s) leaving the team or missing a key competition (for whatever reason).
· A difficult ruling by an official.
· An aggressive action by opposing player or coach.
· A belligerent or unreasonable parent voicing too strong of an opinion.
· An unfair ruling by a governing body.
· Another coach crossing the line of good judgment and/ or behavior.
And parents :
The ability to deal with what your son / daughter is subjected to is critical for overall positive experience.
If they play long enough, they likely will experience one or more of the below:
· An injury or sickness that prevents them from playing.
· A pandemic cancels a season (we would not have thought that until 2020!)
· An unfair judgement against them.
· A difficult coach who limits playing time or cuts them from the team.
· Difficult teammates or other parents.
· Disappointment in performance.
I am sure you can identify moments in your coaching, parenting or even participant journey where the outcome was not reflective of the energy, effort and commitment invested!
I know I can think of many of those moments.
Most importantly, what can be learned in persevering through difficult times can provide the best lessons of all and lead to better development and life management.
Skills learned in sport can help:
· Deal with a failing grade on important test or assignment.
· Overcome not doing well in the job interview or any kind of rejection in the workplace.
· Handle arriving late or miss a deadline.
· Keep a level head if a personal relationship does not go well or as planned
· Handle a financial setback or struggle.
How can we handle situations that don’t go according to plan?
1. Remind ourselves and teach our kids that disappointment and difficulty is more common than everything going according to plan. This is the essence of competitive sport and part of the journey.
If we choose to compete, we sign up for some things not going the way we expect.
Understanding that this is part of the journey makes it less surprising when it happens (of course it still hurts).
2. Model the very same as adults.
We are watched and our behaviour influences those we parent and coach.
If we do not exhibit emotional intelligence in any of the above, what are we teaching our kids ?
Often actions speak louder than words, and should support the words, not contradict them.
3. Be as transparent in handling challenges as possible.
Disappointments don’t ever feel good and some are harder to get past than others, but overreacting or denying them amplifies the impact.
Face them head on. Address them. Acknowledge the challenge and find a way to move forward.
Unfortunately, our culture today seeks too often a path of smooth sailing at the expense of the reality of what is likely a bumpy road.
Be ready and realistic for what we sign up for! It makes the positive moments (and they will happen) all the more sweet.
Experience, maturity and wisdom tells us that anticipating smooth sailing all the time , in life, and on the playing field, is not realistic or fair to anyone.
To use an analogy from living around Toronto: We would love to get to our destination in the shortest time possible, but often there are traffic jams. Not anticipating them will lead to whole host of frustration and anxiety.