Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thoughts on Excellence

As many of you know, I am borderline obsessed with sports. I love to watch sports, play sports, train for sports and bring others to sport. Recently I've been gaining interest in sports I've never before followed. I've been playing indoor soccer with a guy from my ward and his work friends. While I'm not great, I hang in there and make some plays. Yesterday, I was watching Euro2008 and enjoying watching soccer, something my 5 years younger version of myself would have never believed. The Olympic trials were also on and I watched diving and gymnastics. I found myself very interested in both. And last week, with Tiger's knee ailing and Rocco Mediate finding a place in America's interest, golf was similarly engrossed.

Some of you probably know also that I'm a trainer, pursuing a career most specifically in human performance as it relates to athletes. Watching these high level athletes does two things for me: 1) it fills me with regret for never having seriously pursued sports (unless you include now, but I'm kind of past my time) and 2) it leaves me amazed and inspired by their pursuit of excellence. I will probably work someday with lower level athletes, either junior high/high school or college athletes. I want them to believe they can reach excellence with their abilities and work. Obviously, not all lower level athletes can or will become elite or professional athletes, but I would hate to see someone not try because what they perceive as "not-good-enough" talent levels. I like the Nike commercial where Michael Jordan is talking about his basketball game

Maybe it's my fault.
Maybe I led you to believe it was easy, when it wasn't.
Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line and not in the gym.
Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game-winner,
That my game was built on flash and not fire.
Maybe it's my fault that you didn't see that my failure gave me strength,
That my pain was my motivation.
Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God-given gift and not something I worked for every single day of my life.
Maybe I destroyed the game.
Or maybe you're just making excuses.

I think it's a powerful commercial. I wish all the kids out there realized how hard these athletes work to get where they are. I work out and train pretty regularly and pretty intensely and even I, who really am nothing in sports, hate it what people say things like, "Yeah, if I were as fit as you, I could dunk too." I want to work with kids and help them catch fire and understand the work required to pursue excellence in sport.

And even if they don't make it in sport, excellence in everything else is the same. You've got to push. I don't think anything just came easy to anyone who's at the top of their field, their discipline or their proverbial game. I wish this could have been instilled in me when I was young. I think people tried but they couldn't get through. Now it's my job to try to do it with all the young people I work with.


The Mysterious Traveler said...

For some unfathomable reason the word 'you' was omitted from the second line of the video clip's reiteration.

C and MC said...

fixed, mysterious traveler.