What’s the most important thing is sports?

Coaches from all over the world compete in a multitude of sports. The goal is to win. Some place a higher premium on winning than others, but nonetheless, we all want to win. Winning is a by-product of daily habits and work ethic. Sure, talent is important but if talent doesn’t work hard; it won’t win.

Coaches understand some seasons will be better than others. Some years they have a lot coming back, and there will be times when you have to regroup. But when coaches return most of their team, they’re excitement for the upcoming season is higher than ever.

What happens when things don’t go as planned?

Let me tell you about our summer.

Last year our team was 17-10. We had a solid season, and we only lost one player to graduation. During our first summer team camp game we were playing well and beating an area favorite. With less than eight minutes to go in the game, our starting post collided in mid-air and fell to the ground in excruciating pain.

My heart sank.

I feared the worst, and unfortunately it came true. Torn ACL and meniscus. Ouch…

We continued to play well the rest of the camp and had a great time. A week later after the camp we found out one of our returning juniors, a two-year returning starter, was moving.

So, within two weeks we lost two returning starters. We hope to have our post back from ACL rehab by January.

What do I do? What do our girls do now?

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“A life of frustration is inevitable for any coach whose main enjoyment is winning.”

~Chuck Noll

There’s only one choice and it’s simple.

We go to work and be better than we ever have been. I’m going to work harder, coach harder, and love more than I ever had. We still have a lot of talented players. They play hard. They play together.

And we’re still going to be good.

This is when sports mirror life. Sometimes things will be going great, but then you get blindsided. Sports are great because we face failure and disappointment. Those moments prepare and enable us to take on overcome life’s great obstacles.

How do we do this? Here are six suggestions:

Have a purpose above winning. There’s a reason why we coach, teach, create, sell, serve, and do what we do in our careers. When we face those tough moments in sports and in life, it’s important to remember our “Why.” There are two energies which exist: fear and love.  We receive what we put out. We have to choose love and that comes from our “why.” We’re going to get knocked down, but we must make a choice. And make no mistake, happiness and success are both choices.

life 5 Take responsibility. We must choose to be bigger than our circumstances. Our life’s experiences shape our worldview. We are responsible for how we interpret the events and people in our lives. If we choose the right approach and mindset, we can turn our biggest messes into our greatest messages. We can’t control the events in our lives 90% of the time, but we can control our response to those events 100% of the time, and that determines the outcome.  One of my new friends and mentors, Rob Cross, shared this with me the other day:

“Suffering = Pain x Resistance”

This means it’s okay to feel anger. It’s okay to express it. We must acknowledge it. However, the longer we carry it around with us, the longer we suffer. I was upset and disappointed we lost two players within two weeks. But it does no good to dwell on the past. I have to keep moving forward. As Rocky Balboa would say, “That’s how winning is done!”

Trust the process. There is no growth without the struggle. Without the struggle, a butterfly would never be able to fly. We must remember the setback or pain we’re going through is only temporary. Every moment is a teachable moment. There is a lesson to be learned in every challenge. Instead of asking, “Why me?”, we should ask “What can I learn from this?” When we trust the process and forget how something can happen, we become free to what is possible. Trusting the process enables us to turn challenges into blessings. We no longer see them as problems or obstacles, but rather as opportunities to show who we are and what we’re capable of.

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Confront it. The first step is acknowledging how you feel in that moment. It’s okay to feel frustration or even anger. Once we acknowledge it we must confront it. We can’t avoid it. The longer we do, the longer we suffer. The only thing stopping us is us. We must look within and find the strength to bring out best. We can’t let our feelings dictate our actions. If we only focus on how sad, mad, or upset we are we’ll never move forward. We won’t defeat the challenge. However, if we go back to our “why”, trust the process, and rely on our good habits we’ll succeed. We must put our actions before our feelings. Actions before feelings creates momentum which can’t be stopped. Feelings before action doesn’t allow you to get out of bed.

Walk with Integrity. Live out the mantra No excuses, No explanations. We must honor our word to give our very best every day. Somebody somewhere in the world would kill to be in your situation. Somebody always has it worse than us. In acknowledging this we able to take advantage of the privilege we’ve been given. We don’t have to do what we do, we get to do what we do. We are our word, and we have three choices with it.

  1. Keep it
  2. Break it
  3. Renegotiate it

When we break our word our self-worth and credibility go down. When we choose actions over feelings we honor our commitments, our word, and we draw people to us. We must dream, declare, and deliver through integrity.

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Expand your comfort zone. Get out and do something that scares you and pushes you out of your comfort zone. We have to challenge the limiting beliefs which we hold as truths. Once we realize those beliefs are garbage we are able to do some incredible things. We are either getting better or worse. There is no staying the same. Getting out of our comfort zones during those challenging times will push us to achieve greater than what we thought was possible.

This is how sport mirrors life. Take these six suggestions for any obstacle in sport or life. I believe when we do, we overcome and be better than before.

How do you overcome the obstacles in your life and in sports? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be and RGP today!

Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.