Aaron Rodgers was recently interviewed about winning a Super Bowl. His response was shocking to most people.
“This is it?”
He was commenting on the feeling that we have all had when we have worked so hard for so long to make a dream a reality. We have given everything we have in pursuit of a certain “glory”. Then we get it and it doesn’t deliver on the promise it was supposed to.
Rodgers had this feeling after winning the Super Bowl and I think I know why. It’s because the Super Bowl doesn’t care who wins it. It’s nota person, It can’t love you back and so it has no opinion or care whether it’s won or not, who wins it or if anyone will win it again. Also, it’s not lasting. Someone will win it next year and the year after that and the year after that. In 2 years no one will care. It will be irrelevant.
I have another friend who wrote a book that was featured on the cover of Time magazine.
On the cover!!
He recently told a story about how he went to the grocery store 8 days after the issue had come out and realized there was someone else on the cover. He immediately had a sulky feeling like “what?” “where is my issue?” “what happened?”
He realized that the work is where the joy is. You can make it big. As big as it gets. Like the Super Bowl or Time magazine and it doesn’t last.
You have to throw yourself into your craft. It has to be a craft. I can’t say it enough.
People hope they can do the hard work i.e. (Practice, weights, game film, etc.) and then because they’ve done it then joy will be found.
The blood sweat and tears are where the joy really lives.
I think our job as coaches are to shepherd kids into a better reality. Early in life, we’ve all bought into the sales pitch that you have to make the grades so you can get into the schools, so you can get the internships, so you can get the jobs, so you can climb the ladders.
The problem is once we have achieved all that and have conquered all the hills and made all the money you are left with an overwhelming sense of “is this all there is?”
I believe there is a better way to live.
Aaron Rodgers felt that way because it’s true.
I don’t believe we are wired to strive for specific goals like that. Not because they are bad or unhealthy on there own but, if you think about it, it doesn’t make sense.
To play a sport or earn a degree or master a skill from the time you are five until you are 30, putting in tons of hours and energy only to win one game, get one job, attain one title. The craziest thing about it is every single athlete has the exact same goal. Win a championship. It’s kind of absurd.
A coach recently asked me:
“Do you think as coaches, we put the idea in their head that championships should be the goal?”
We asked our guys to write down goals this year. All of them said something about winning a state championship, winning the league championship, etc.
I’m not sure anyone wrote anything about the process of getting better.”
Yes but that’s only because that’s the only way any of us have been taught.
We were taught to “win at all costs” in everything we do.
Think of how many things in life we use war metaphors for.
For instance, how many coaches talk about;
“Going to battle”
“Crushing the opponent”
“That guy drops bombs”
“He has a cannon for an arm”
“That was a missile”
“That dude is a tank”
“Plan of attack”
That isn’t every coach, but the majority of coaches in every sport, at every level, are taught that we are the good guys and we must defend our turf. There can only be one side left standing. It has to be us.
We propagate a “violence” mindset because that’s all we were given.
I will say that winning is fun but, there really isn’t a huge difference between winning and losing besides how outsiders perceive you.
You absolutely have to love the craft of what you are doing. The joy is in the creating. You have to find that fascinating. And in baseball’s case if they don’t then I bet we can find parts of the game they enjoy and trace that to a fundamental spark that they can use in the journey of finding their THING.
We are addicted to results.
I’m really not a results guy anymore. I don’t care about them in the least. However, I do realize that kids care about them and their entire level of confidence rests on how they are doing game to game. We have to remember that.
We all know (whether conscious or not) that the best results come from love.
It’s important to note that being in ministry for the last decade causes me to use the Jesus stories as an animating center for this belief. Regardless of faith/spirituality/secularism, the things we love are the things we invest in and tend to be the things that are the most healthy. If that love is channeled well.
Focusing on results works in the short term for the best of the best but leaves the actual stuff that matters on the side to decay.
Look at Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodrigues, or Lance Armstrong.
To be clear I am the same way as you. I talk about this stuff because I struggle with it and I am constantly looking for a better way to do it.
I spent all last summer being so upset when we lost.
That’s when I knew something was wrong.
A Franciscan priest told me something about two years ago that has helped shape the new direction I am trying to live into: “you don’t think your way into new ways of living, you live your way into new ways of thinking”
Living into new ways takes time. You have to have grace for yourself. It’s going to take time because all good things that last take time. Think about your marriage or your kids.
Now there is neuroscience research that says that negativity imprints on the brain instantly but positivity has to be relished for 15 seconds to imprint. Which is why negative stuff changes us and positive stuff never seems too. We have to consciously focus on the positive longer than the negative for it to have an effect.
It’s not black and white like we grew up being taught by our coaches and other baseball influences.
It’s a dance.
Kids are so overworked these days. It’s ridiculous. I have 12-year-olds who are late for baseball practice every week because they have 7 on 7 football in April.
I had a kid last fall trying to play 4 sports in the fall!
That’s right you read that correctly….4
We have disrupted that natural rhythm and order to life. The earth actually goes through seasons for a reason. There is a flow to the day, the week, the month and the year.
There is a reason crops only grow at certain times. The land needs rest.
We need rest. Kids are not taught to rest well. Adults are even worse at it. Rest has become a 4 letter word in this culture.
The idea of Sabbath in Jewish spirituality nailed down how to rest well. They take one day a week that is not like the other days. One day to remind themselves that they are human beings. That their value does not come from what they produce but simply because they exist.
You throw yourself into it. You find something that will get you up in the morning. No matter if you are good at it or not. Regardless if you have success or not. You give it everything you have.
Craft takes time. There are very few prodigies. You have to put in the work every day. Day in day out.
You throw yourself into it and you surrender the outcomes.