O is for Opportunity

        O is for Opportunity.  Our truth is often in our perception of what goes on around us.  There is a quote attributed to a Roman General Scipio Africanus that says, "I'm convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 96% how I react to it."  While Scipio's math can certainly be questioned, his accomplishments on the battlefield cannot.  He defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War and is considered one of the great generals of all time.  Regardless of the math, the quote speaks to really what so much of life is about.  There are countless variables for which we have little to no control over and how we react often determines our performance or quality of life.  Viewing situations that come up as opportunities, more often that not, is the healthy response that give us our best chance of success.

        Competition is something that people have differing view on.  Some are threatened by it.  Whether the competition is within a team for a position or in a game against a quality opponent, some athletes do not like it.  There could be many reasons for this but a flawed perspective on what the competition means is likely.  Rather than being threatened or scared, the competition within a team is an opportunity to push yourself and see how good you can be.  The fact your team has competition is also great because it likely means your team is good!  I read something early on in my degree program that struck me.  It was about plants in really crowded areas where sunlight is limited.  The plants are forced to bend all kinds of ways in order to get sunlight and grow.  The plants don't allow the competition for sunlight or the fact it won't be easy to give them an excuse to die.  They treat it as an opportunity to grow, and they do.  The analogy holds true for environments of any kind where there is competition.  You can feel sorry for yourself that a position or playing time aren't going to be handed to you (the sunlight), or you can be thankful for being somewhere you will be challenged to grow.  Great teams often thrive on a competitive environment within the team.  Players push each other to be as good as they can possibly be both individually and as a group.  A great example of this is the University of Kentucky men's basketball team.  Like it or not, they reload with young, premium talent every year.  Coach Calipari is great at encouraging competition within the team and helping them grow.  There is little doubt the fact that so many want to be NBA players helps with the competitive environment within the team as well.

        There are also different ways to react when you are faced with the challenge of competition in a game.  Some performers will do well when the competition is not very good.  They are like the plant who is alone with a great angle on some sunlight.  Then, when the competition gets better they feel threatened and panic.  Maybe they start to doubt their preparation and are taken out of their game.  Great competitors see the challenge as an opportunity to see how good they can be.  They know their job is to get sunlight regardless of whether it is easy or not.  They are task-oriented and compete against the game itself instead of letting the opponent dictate what they do!

        Opportunity is available in so much of what we do in life.  It's up to us to find the opportunity and take advantage of it or not.  Like so much of sport psychology, the concept is pretty simple to understand but tougher to do.  Finding opportunity can be really hard when things are going poorly.  Like the glimmer of sunshine in a crowded forest, it is there.  You just have to be willing to look.

O is for Opportunity SOTD is KISS- New York Groove
I know there's not much to do with the letter O, but I'm driving to New York for the week today.  Also, it kind of sounds like a redemption song for a plant that had to battle for sun if we really want to make a stretch..




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