4 Lessons I Learned While Competing in Sports as a Child

Did you learn lessons playing sports as a child?Did you learn lessons playing sports as a child?Would you believe that competing can make you a better person? It may not do much for your self-esteem, especially if you are on a team that loses frequently. Competitive sports might not even foster your love for a particular athletic activity. Then again, your stint in a competitive environment probably gives you a bit of an edge today in business. Don't believe me? There are four lessons I learned while competing in sports as a child; if you think back, you might remember a few lessons you learned as well.

1. Cheaters win but get no respect

Remember the runners who would hide behind the high-jump mats that obscured the view of the track's curves? They would come out of hiding just in time to finish with the rest of the pack. While all other runners were winded and panting, they sailed through the finish line. Did the coach ever catch on? Maybe, maybe not; however, these runners soon got a reputation for being cheats. Fellow track runners would not respect them; refuse to hang out after the track meet and -- if they were classmates -- steer clear of them in school as well.

2. Ribbons do not equal self-esteem

Why do today's coaches hand out ribbons to each and every participant? Rewarding someone for showing up is all good and well, but calling the runner a 15th place winner is a bit over the top. As a child, I competed for the distinction to be among the top three. More often than not, I failed. Even so, I felt good about myself because I did my best. Having received an award for losing might not have dissuaded me from trying hard, but it would have cheapened the few times that I did win.

3. From nothing comes nothing

One of my mother's favorite sayings was that from nothing comes nothing. Usually she would refer to the amount of time I spent studying grammar or vocabulary words. A follow-up saying would usually warn me that relying on "somehow" mastering a subject was a fool's bargain. I took to heart her lesson and applied it to sports. Wouldn't you know it? She was right there, too! In order to compete successfully, effort and sweat had to accompany skill and talent. It was a small step to apply this philosophy to the business environment.

4. No man is an island onto himself

As my pastor remarked last Sunday, had Rambo been a Christian in the spiritual war, he would have lost. The same is true in sports, even if they are not team sports. At the very least, it takes a coach, mentor or trainer to help get the athlete in shape and work on specific aspects of the movements. A trained martial arts teacher spots the student's weakness and teaches her to balance this weakness with a strength. A running coach knows how to coax another spurt of energy from the tired runner. A good golf coach knows why the ball consistently falls short of hitting the green; he teaches the player how to position herself and amplify the strength of her swing. I took this lesson to heart as a child and learned that a support network is a must for any venture -- even if I think that I can do it alone.

Content by Sylvia Cochran.

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