Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Are you winning at life?

Your team is 5 points down in the Grand Final. You’ve got the footy, hard up against the boundary line, wrong side for a right footer, no daylight between the goal posts. Siren sounds! Crowd goes nuts. You can’t play on so a right foot check-side it is. 

You hit it sweetly, you’re already celebrating as the ball is halfway there and sure enough it bends perfectly and sails through between the lemon tree and the apricot tree and smashes into the back fence. You tell yourself one day that will be you on the MCG on the last Saturday in September,  winning a premiership for your beloved team with a kick after the siren.
You see yourself as a future gun; possibly even a Brownlow Medallist and you’re going to work so hard to get there, because it’s worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears.....
Most kids who grew up playing footy, or any sport, in the backyard have undoubtedly shared a similar dream. Maybe it wasn’t footy; maybe you hit a six back over the bowler’s head from the last ball of the Boxing Day Test to win for Australia (if you were like me, you probably put it through the kitchen window and had your mum screaming at you). Or maybe you made a half court, three point basket on the buzzer to win the NBA championship in game seven.
Whatever it was, sport is all about dreams, hard work and persistence and is so much more than simply just sport. Sport teaches us how to communicate with others and how to work effectively in teams, not dissimilar to everyday work environments. It teaches us to strive for excellence and to work hard. Laziness is not tolerated as shortcuts hamper success. The hard work, the effort, the trials and tribulations make it all the sweeter when you’re lifting that premiership cup aloft. Just ask Matt Spangher from the Hawthorn footy club.
“Yeah nah, we’re just taking it one week at a time, the boys are striving for the worst in themselves. We don’t really want to be that good but you know mate, we’re on a sure path to disaster and it’s exciting”… said no sportsperson ever.
In many ways, sport is a continual pursuit of excellence, perfection and goodness. It is exactly the same in our everyday lives. As employees, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends etc. we strive to be the best we can. We try to perform our jobs as well as we can, we try and parent as well as we can. Like our teammates, we want the best for our family and friends and will help them achieve the goals they are trying to attain.
Like sportspeople, we have our ups and downs, we fight with each other, we laugh with other, we cry with each other and we celebrate our achievements with each other. It is no different to what players from both Hawthorn and Sydney are currently going through after last weekend’s AFL Grand Final. Like a kid at Christmas, Hawthorn players are celebrating. Like a kid at Christmas with a sock full of spuds, Sydney players are contemplating what might have been.
For many sportspeople, sport is their life. How they perform and how they carry themselves on the field defines them off it. Take a real life example from the AFL. North Melbourne’s Lindsay Thomas has built a reputation for being a diver and staging for free kicks. It reached such a point that the umpires put the whistle away when he probably should have received a number of free kicks during this year’s final series. He has been defined as a stager and a diver, a reputation no player envies.
Compare him to Hawthorn’s Luke Hodge, who throughout years of putting his body on the line and leading by example, has rightly been labelled one of the most courageous players the game has seen.
When Thomas and Hodge retire, how will they be remembered (based on current public sentiment)? Thomas: a diver, forever trying to con the umpires into paying him a free kick that wasn’t there. Hodge: a bull, a warrior, a true leader of men, courage personified.
It is not only how we play our relevant sport that defines us, but also how we act while playing. We may have all the talent in the world at our chosen sport, but if we act like a prat while playing, are we going to be respected?
Jason Akermanis was a freak footballer. He could do things on the field that not many, if any, could do. He won a Brownlow Medal and three Premierships. He was also thrown out of both football clubs he played for. Was he respected as a person? I’d argue he wasn’t by the majority of people.
Roger Federer has won the most men’s singles grand slam tennis tournaments ever. Like Akermanis, he can do the unthinkable. Is he respected as a person? Absolutely. He is widely known as a gentleman and a humble winner. People love him.
Who would you prefer to act like or be compared to in everyday life? A triumphant yet humble Wawrinka, or a spoilt, petulant Baghdatis?

At work, do you want to be known as the employee who is great at your job but is widely despised or disrespected throughout the office? Or do you want to be the employee who strives to be the best worker they can be, who treats people with respect and who consequently is widely regarded as a good person?
Approach your life like you’d approach your sport. Strive to be the best person you can be like you strive to be the best athlete you can be. Look out for others as you look out for your teammates. Finally, work hard. Work on your marriage, your relationships, your friendships just as you train and work on your goal kicking or your batting or your dribbling. And have fun doing it!
All the best,
Dom Meese

Image courtesy of the Herald Sun

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