Great Competition is Great
Right now I'm in the middle of a summer position at IMG Academy in Florida. The position is as part of the Summer Mental Conditioning Staff, and I'm very fortunate for the opportunity. Originally, I wasn't planning on writing about it at all. Those who know me well know I'm very anti-self-promotion (can you double hyphenate?). This blog is meant to inform not to brag about my work. Sport psychology is about the athletes, coaches, and parents...not me. Although I understand the perspective of those who tweet about their work with this team or that athlete, it's not one I share. That said, I feel like I'm learning so much that it would be a shame not to share some of it with others in some capacity. Writing allows that platform so I'll try to write here and there. My hope is it will help You.
One of the great challenges of the summer is working outside of our sports of experience. Thus far, I've worked with tennis, golf, soccer, football, and basketball...in addition to baseball. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but I've actually enjoyed it a lot. Tennis and soccer, probably my two least favorite sports of the group, have actually been my two favorite groups to work with. The kids have been a lot of fun, and I've enjoyed learning from their experience. Something working with the variety of sports demands is a base level of knowledge of the sports themselves. This has led me to make an effort to actually watch a little tennis. The effort has coincided with Wimbledon so that has helped. This morning I had breakfast at Wimbledon with Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber. Serena was playing to try to match Steffi Graf's 22 Major Titles, and Kerber had beaten her at the Australian Open earlier this year. The match was well-played, back and forth, and Serena came out on top.
Something very unique to tennis finals is what happens after the match is finished. Not five minutes after losing the tournament and two weeks of hard-fought matches, the loser has to give an interview in front of the entire crowd. Could you imagine Mitch Williams giving an interview in front of all the Blue Jay fans fresh off of giving up the walkoff home run to Joe Carter? Tennis players seem to have a different perspective though, and Kerber was incredibly gracious and articulate in her defeat. Then, the champ gets interviewed. Serena also showed a tremendous amount of class. I loved several of her comments, and the one below in particular spoke to me. Williams talked about how she loved playing Kerber because of the quality of competition she brought and her "bringing out great tennis" in Williams. There is a message there for all of us no matter whether we are athletes, coaches, teachers, business professionals, etc. Great athletes want to be pushed. They want the challenge. They aren't satisfied with just beating up on lesser competition. Defeats against quality opponents can actually often bring greater satisfaction than a lopsided win.
With that, my challenge to you is to find people who are good at what you do. Seek others who are even better than you in whatever it is that you do. Learn from them and their successes. I'm not telling you to not be yourself. I want you to be the best version of You possible though, but others can help you with that. It's silly to think you have all of the answers. Hopefully others will seek you out as well, and you'll be able to offer ways to help them become a better "them" too. Pushing one another to grow continually makes ourselves and whatever fields we are a part of better. It's been one of my favorite parts of the summer so far, and it's something I look forward to doing a lot more over the coming weeks.