Athletes, like all humans, need encouragement when they stop believing in their dreams or have a bad day. When success or greatness seems like an impossibility, we need a kick in the ass.
Dig deep, homegirl.
Go big, homeboy.
Yet, what does going big and having success even mean?
Most humans get caught up playing the fool’s game; all wanting success, exposure, fame, status, scholarships, money, and believing these “things” will make them worthy or unique in the eyes and minds of their peers.
Don’t drink the athlete snake oil.
Don’t fall prey to human nature — to stop pushing hard when you are winning.
To stop practicing your timeless habits of success. To let up when you are ahead 14 points (ask LeBron). It’s natural, and it is the one part of life you can’t see before it hits you.
Complacency erodes the foundation of your craft, your relationships, your love life, anything you want to have success with in life.
I know complacency ruins you because pro sports teaches you real quickly when you let up. You take your foot off the accelerator and forget the psychology of success is part of human behavior. It’s human nature to let up. If you do this when you are playing in the pros, you’ll not only lose the game, three things will happen:
- You’ll lose your edge.
2. You’ll lose your career.
3. You’ll get embarrassed.
LET’S CHANGE WHAT WE MEASURE AS SUCCESSFUL
At a certain age, kids and adults alike, need to learn competition is natural and fun, if taught the right way. Critical feedback can be a positive experience if the leader-player relationships are built in the right way.
Competition to me is bringing passion to the forefront of our process while struggle, lose, or succeed. This is how we find our strengths and weaknesses, and it’s Darwinism played out in a way that doesn’t involve being eaten by Komodo Dragon.
I bet people that invented “everyone gets a medal and a ribbon for participating” out there may be mad at me for saying this, but getting ribbons and medals for lackluster passion or not pushing yourself to be your best is bullshit.
I’m not even talking about winning.
I’m talking about playing with passion — let’s measure passion applied. For adults. For kids. Let’s measure the passion process and try to find out how to reward our success in applying that passion to our process.
That said, I don’t want to be too hard on myself (or you). Because the truth is, most people don’t even show up. So yeah…
Rule 1: SHOW UP.
Rule 2: PLAY WITH APPLIED PASSION.
But usually when kids or adults do show up, they don’t have to play by the rules that will make them successful in what they choose to do with their lives.
Never learning to push yourself out of your comfort zone is a bad habit.
But you know what I love seeing more than showing up?
Passion — a goddamn human body sprawling across the court on their chest looking like a scorpion for a loose ball. The kid that doesn’t look around at his peers when they pour their heart and soul into a drill.
When I write (or play my game), I want to invoke that passion, connect to the divine creator of intensity, even if I do it poorly. Even if I play bad, I want to do it with passion. The thing about writing (or creating) is, most people get to share their comments and spam and troll you because they are angry about their own life — not because your writing is so bad.
They are mad they can’t practice practicing passion in their own lives.
I’ve met too many haters that say, “Trevor, I was better than him at basketball in high school. In college. I used to kill him. He is trash. His game is garbage.”
As Kris Gage (yes, one of my favorite writers on Medium) basically says, ya’ll are just walking around inside my house — just leave if you don’t want to be here.
Time is precious, don’t waste it talking shit to me.
Or do, it doesn’t matter to me, I’m still gonna hoop. Train. Write. Ball. Share. Express. Love. Dive. Lift. Scream.
It’s gonna happen regardless.
In sports, the principle of playing with passion and a bit of “I don’t give a shit what you think” mentality applies to most things in life because playing, writing, relationship building, communicating, talking, selling, creating, building, team-working, makes you worthy of criticism. Shooting for the JDMBA degree that seems unreachable makes you worthy. Training for that marathon or CrossFit competition as hard as you can makes you worthy.
Showing up and trying your best (on that given day) at anything you choose to do makes you worthy.
Most of the people that talk crap are the ones not doing what they should be (hence they have the time to complain about you).
Wasted potential is our society’s biggest hurdle
I’ve seen too many athletes go through the motions. Nothing pisses me off more than this. I don’t measure an athlete’s success by their stats, I measure them by their applied passion process.
In the last four years, I’ve tried working with two startups, I’ve tried to invent something and sell it, I’ve moved to two new cities and countries, I’ve quit my 9–5, and I’ve asked those beautiful women on the treadmill out for a coffee (okay, maybe I just asked them what time it was first) and been rejected.
See, the beauty of creating and playing with passion is you get criticized. You fail. You bomb. You lose. You struggle. You get scolded. Someone gives you critical feedback. Someone tells you to do better. To focus more. To play harder.
It’s all good hommies, take that advice and smile. Suffer with a smile and never let your competition know their words got to you.
Thanks, Kris Gage for sharing your beautiful words about this process of doing what you love and having people judge you for it (and what you do).
That’s the difference between the amateur and a professional athlete; everything pro athletes do is put under a microscope, as every shot, every pass, every turnover, every mistake, every big play is examined by people that don’t even get to play in a game watched by other people, and they accept it as part of the game.
One of my Teddy Roosevelt favorite quotes:
But getting success, being engaged with your team, your trainer, your coach, your team, your company, focusing on getting in the game, showing up, and being the hardest working player is when real results start happening. You do that, AND two things happen:
1. The game doesn’t get easier, you get better.
2. People recognize your hard work, skills, and love for the game.
THE LACK OF APPLIED PASSION STARTS FROM A EARLY FOUNDATION OF FEAR:
I’m gonna rant on a tangent: most kids lose their ability to think for themselves because our society presses college, to get a job, to get married, and live the American Dream before learning how to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
To beat fear, you have to first understand how you are conditioned to be fearful of what you don’t know.
I lived in Europe for 14 years and saw their lifestyle and often compare their childhoods to what I see kids experiencing here.
What American dream is burdened with debt? I know hundreds of really, really smart people that are six figures behind in student loans, rotting behind their loss of freedom, and not sure what their college education gave them.
Why not go on a gap year? Why not get a job? Why not learn to save money and invest like Mr. Money Mustache?
Why not go travel the world, save and spend your 3k on a world tour and figure out who you are, what other cultures you admire, and what you like to do in your spare time?
Why not try a few community college classes?
Maybe we need to let kids fail earlier. Let them out into the world earlier and more often. Most of the kids I know in Europe speak four languages and don’t use Ritalin as much as we do.
What, I’m just saying, there are hundreds of ways to learn how to apply passion to what you want to succeed at and be the best you can be in…
Don’t be ridonkulous, Trevor. How cliche, be the best you can be — I have to go to college. I have to be this. I have to be that. My parents want me to do this.
I can hear those same voices in my head as a teenager. The truth is, college is great when you know what you want to do.
You talkin’ crazy, Trevor.
WTF, we all fail at something. I’d rather fail sooner than later. At least, then, I know tried something I really wanted to try. Something I really wanted to do.
Development as an athlete or a person comes when you accept the frustration, the challenge, the turmoil, the change, the pain, the fatigue, the success, and when you fight that brawl with your inner voice (conscious or subconscious), and continue the quest to try and be the best you can be; rain or shine, snow or hellfire, gale winds or doldrums.
But maybe that is an explorer’s curse; to touch the boundaries and survive. Perhaps that is the athlete’s way; to feel the ends of their comfort zone and survive. Maybe that is why I write; to look into the dark recesses of my mind, and survive.
By doing this, I believe, if you survive, you survive entirely more aware of how much potential you have.
Don’t put your dreams off. Begin now. Today. Book the ticket. Find the friend. Sing the song. Write the chapter. Shoot the shot. Sell the house (and the jet ski).
A pure athlete’s mantra knows they are worth their efforts to become the best version of themselves in whatever they choose to do.
Keyword — choose.
Bada-bada-bada-boom, this is the most reliable life lesson sports offers us, the chance to choose how we want to play.
I’ve lost the battle of cultivating my craft, tried to numb myself from the pressure of failure, or all the shit that has happened in my past.
You reap what you sow, so let it go and get in the game.
Then after you get in the game, learn how to keep your foot on the accelerator (the process).
Real professionals wake up regardless of what happened the day before and get into the game, become the workout, go into the weight room, grow in the video room, and search out the competition.
I failed at this for many years.
Because I was scared of being my best self. Of owning every inch of my potential.
I lost the edge as I got older.
I was an underdog teenager trying to prove the world wrong and that fueled my process. I had a personal motto, a vendetta, a mantra against the laziest version of myself to become the greater version of me every day.
Words can’t tell you how much potential I had that I never exposed; how many game-winning shots I never took; how many game winners I shied away from; how many off seasons I let pass by without adding a new skill; how many times I could have gone to bed and stuck to the plan, but instead got distracted by booze, parties, or going out into new European cities as a 26-year old that had just take his first sip of alcohol and the night life.
Yet, even then, I still did some good things.
I showed up. I worked hard. I applied my passion to games. To winning. And as I got better, the game got easier, just as it is with everything in life. But that is no reason to stop pursuing greatness through applied passion and keeping your process at the forefront of your priorities.