When you think of the word control, what comes to mind? Is it power, possessions, management, or a maybe a TV remote? How does one attain and maintain control? What is the most important form of control? We’ll discuss this and more in this week’s blog.
To begin we must first identify what is the most important form of control and I believe it to be self-control. Without self-control there can be no discipline, and without discipline success is not possible. Oftentimes discipline is solely looked upon with a negative connotation, only as a punishment to a negative action. However, the successful know that self-control and discipline are the cornerstones to success. The best line I can think to use is this, “Discipline yourself and others won’t have to.”
Sports are great because they provide the perfect venue to teach self-control. Soccer Hall of Famer, Mia Hamm stated, “Confidence, self-esteem, discipline, motivation. All these things I learned, whether I knew I was learning them or not, through sports.” This is the beauty of sports. Whether we understand it or not at the time, sports provide us with so many valuable and teachable moments that prepare us for life. We cannot only be focused on the results of the contest; we must focus on the process that provides success and that can only control through self-control.
One of the best things players and coaches can do to show self-control is to “play present.” I first heard this term from one of my role models in the coaching and speaking industry, Alan Stein. Alan says that in order to be or “play present” one must let go of past mistakes. If you’re a coach, you cannot complain about a missed call and lose focus of the next possession. If you’re a player, you cannot mope on the court after a missed shot, turnover, or bad call. You cannot be worried about what’s going on in the stands. As Coach K says, “The next play is always the most important play.”
To focus on playing present our basketball team has used symbols to remind us to move on and focus on the next play. Two of the symbols we’ve used are “the flush” and “brush it off.” The flush is symbolic of flushing a mistake down the toilet and brushing it off is symbolic of letting it go, it’s no big deal. This has helped our girls keep focus in games and to understand that mistakes happen; we just have to move on from them. In sports, the teams that win most often are the ones who exemplify the most self-control, and the ones who “play present” most often.
I want to end with an example through sports and a short story that exemplifies what self-control is all about. In Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals, the Lakers once had a 15-point lead over the Boston Celtics. The lead was cut to six after 3 quarters. During the huddle between the 3rd and 4th quarters, Derek Fisher asked his teammates if someone had told them before the game they would have a six-point lead, would they be happy about it? Of course they would. This simple question got the Lakers to refocus and they went on to win the game by seven points. Fisher’s question got the Lakers to focus on self-control. They shifted from the growing negative emotions and focused on what they could control; their attitude and performance.
There once was a boy who had a short temper and his father gave him a bag of nails and a hammer. Every time the boy lost his temper he was to hammer a nail into the back of the fence. After the first day the boy had over 35 nails in the fence. Over the following days and weeks the boy learned to control his temper and the amount of nails that went into the fence went down dramatically. He found it was easier to have self-control rather than drive the nails in, and the day came where he didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father asked the son to pull out the nails with each day that passed with no anger outbursts. Once the nails were all out of the fence, the father took the boy by the hand and led him to the fence. He told his son to look at the fence and notice it still had holes in it; it would never be the same. The father told the boy that when you say things in anger it leaves holes in people just like the fence. A verbal wound is just as bad a physical one, no matter how many times you say sorry.
I thought this story perfectly illustrated the importance and value of learning self-control. It also reminds us that when we don’t use self-control, our words can have a devastating effect on others. The more self-control we are able to have, the better people we become. This is something I have to remind myself of daily and something I know I can always work on. Please join me in working on self-control.
Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!