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Dealing with change, the lessons we can learn from sport

There is one thing you can guarantee in life and that is at some point we will have had to deal with change and trauma in one form or another. For some it could be losing a job or loved one, for others it could be illness and for a small minority, they are left asking “why is it always me?”. But we can all be assured we will not get through life without some highs and lows. Now whilst this may sound a of bit doom and gloom, especially taking into account the world we currently live in, it is not meant to be, it is a reminder of the human spirit, the ability to bounce back, often with a newfound strength and determination.

We often look to sport for lessons in life and business, and once again we can gain skills and knowledge from this sector. All successful sports people have one thing in common, the ability to overcome any hurdles they face on their journey to success. My belief is that for every successful person in sport, (although this can also be attributed to business, the arts and just about every element of life), 10 could have been more successful. Unfortunately some are lost to circumstance, some things we cannot control or influence, but many fall short because when things get tough or they face failures and setbacks they walk away, forever resigned to telling anyone who will listen what they could have been.

As an 800m runner I had to loose a lot of races before I could win one. That’s how we learn, by being prepared to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, to make mistakes along the way.

Whilst I acknowledge that by a certain age dealing with change and trauma is inevitable, for a lot of the younger generation this is the first time in their short lives they have had to deal with one of life’s hurdles, and sadly for them they have not yet done an apprenticeship in hard knocks in order to be equipped to deal with the uncertainty and sudden change to their normal way of life.

For the younger generation life is simple, and it should be. It’s about experiences and friendship. However, without any warning and understanding both have been snatched from them. So once again we are left looking to sport for the answers. How do we deal with one of life’s hurdles or in the case of Covid, a great big landslide on our personal journeys?

The answer is simple, we use 3 simple words, “Control the controllables”. We have no control over the current situation. We have no control that our schools are closed; we have no control that sports clubs are closed down again; we have no control that we cannot hug loved ones; we have no control that the pubs are closed and in the world of sports, athletes have no control that Tokyo 2020 is now Tokyo 2021. For some this is a blessing, the extra year to prepare whilst for others they were in the shape of their lives in 2020. Like all situations in life, there will be winners and losers. The successful athletes in 2021 will be the ones that whilst feeling frustrated when they heard the confirmation that the games were being postponed, would have very quickly resigned to the fact that they had no control over the decision and all they could do was dust themselves off and make sure they are in the best physical and mental condition to possible to perform in 2021.

What can the younger generation learn from sport during this challenging time? In short, they can learn that it’s not about what we are dealing with, it’s how we deal with it. With the challenges that have been posed by our current situation, it is understandable why many children have chosen to sit and play on devices, given limited attention to online learning, have found multiple excuses to avoid any physical exercise and have let any form of healthy diet slip away. We need to teach our children that they can take control of the areas they can control. They can make sure that they are logging onto lessons with the right mindset, ‘how can I do this to the best of my ability?’, ‘how can I do better than I did yesterday?’. They can set and adhere to timetables on their devices, find time to get outdoors and exercise and still communicate with their friends. They can turn a challenging situation into a beneficial one, just like the athletes mentioned above, if they have the right mindset.

For my children it has been a great opportunity to learn some valuable life skills: setting and sticking to their timetables, planning and preparing their lunches, helping around the house, getting involved with my attempts at DIY. Whilst Covid has robbed us of so much, it has also given many the greatest commodity in life, TIME. Time to focus on what is really important in life, to just go out for a walk and marvel at how many families are out walking together, talking, enjoying what is around them rather than what’s on a small screen in front of them. Time to actually enjoy their lives rather than watching others supposedly enjoying theirs online. But this lesson is not just reserved for the younger generation, we can all take control of the controllables, take time to focus on what good we have in our lives and take some time to focus on and plan for the future we want and the desires we hope to achieve.


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