Ask a coach why a kid should join a sport and he might say ‘It builds character.’ While true, that’s a pretty lame and generic answer. I say generic because I believe the reason people say it because they heard someone else say it once and it sounded good so they decided to use it. Us humans are funny like that.

How to turn Sweat into Gold.

Allow me to give my perspective on why kids, adults, and everyone in general should join a sport or otherwise commit to completing some kind of physical goal. I call my thesis How to turn Sweat into Gold.

Teaches you how to set goals….

“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.”
-Arnold Schwarzenegger

It takes a certain amount of courage to compete in any arena, in any venue, for any event. So many people chose not to compete, not even solely against themselves with nothing for an audience beyond their own expectations and conscience. But those who do learn to set goals as well as the discipline required to achieve them. This sets a model for success that translates to every aspect of life; physically, financially, and personally.

… And accomplish them.

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
Bruce Lee

I could write an article series on the objective lessons that competing has taught me. But I don’t have to because Jane has already done so brilliantly.

Teaches patience and perseverance

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
Lance Armstrong

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
-Muhammed Ali

But both the human mind and spirit are incredible resilient pieces of equipment. They are adaptable and malleable so far as we choose to make them be. And it’s that lesson, the fact that you have to choose to make yourself succeed, that sports can teach us.

Humbles us

“Obviously talent gets you to a certain point, but it’s what you do with it, how you handle.”
Brett Favre

Each of us have things that come easy to us. And each of us have things that we are simply awful at. One thing that athletics teaches you is that not only do many other people share your perceived faults, there are an unsettling number of people that share your strengths, too. And when you compete against people who are as good as you are in the one thing you know you’re good at humility sets in. But so does character. If you have the strength of character to prevail past those with superior talent or circumstance, there’s little you cannot do.

Removes the debilitating fear of failure

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Michael Jordan

Sometimes you try and you succeed. Sometimes you try and you fail. Most of the time, most of us try, fail, and then succeed at our chosen challenge after a series of renewed attempts. Physical goals, no matter if it’s losing a few lbs, taking up kung fu or swimming a few miles are especially difficult to master on the first try.

Sweat Equity

When I bought my house it was a dump. It needed everything. Walls, plumbing, electrical, siding, gutters, heating, air conditioning, appliances… ok, you get the point. So many people had passed on it despite teh incredible neighborhood because it needed so much work. Well, I needed a house and without a trust fund to pay for it I was able to invest “sweat equity” into the property to bring it up to a standard good enough for me to refinance and roll my remaining student loans into it. Today the house is nearly unrecognizable from the form it took when I bought it. It’s slowly becoming one of the nicer properties on the block all because of the lessons I learned from athletics on setting goals, learning from failure, being patient, and persevering. Lessons that were paid for again in sweat.

What has athletics taught you that you were able to apply elsewhere? How has a physical goal changed your life in ways you didn’t ever expect?

This entry was posted in Core and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments (2)

Enjoyed the post! I did gymnastics for 7 years through middle school and high school. I was not “great ” at it, but I enjoyed doing it. Through the years, I realized I was never going to be the best , but as long as I kept practicing, and enjoyed what I was doing, I would give my opponents a run for their money. It taught me to never give up, no matter what anyone tells you, or how hopeless it may seem. I realized that, if you put your heart into something, no matter how long it takes you or how many times you fail, ( or how many times you change your mind) you’ll know success.

I use that lesson almost everyday. I forgot that for a little while, not realizing what was truly important to me. In Marine Corps boot camp, in order to get the best , most meaningful experience out of it, you have to have heart. In my cubicle, I may not enjoy the day to day grind , but I do enjoy being the one people go to when they have a problem that needs fixing, and as long as I put my heart into that mission, I am satisfied.

Believe in something + Heart = Success

Nice write up, Devil Dog. It’s easy to get sidetracked – on goals, in sports, and in life. The great thing about these kind of endeavors is that it develops a natural sense of alignment. A sort of intrinsic feedback loop if you will.

Good to see you putting these thoughtful comments out here! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.