John O’ Sullivan, from Changing the Game Project, shared these 10 things he learned from his Dad through sports, that he has applied to his life.
In honor of all the dad’s out there, we are sharing these lessons with you.
- As Confucius says, “Do not worry that no one knows you; seek to be worth knowing,” In other words, until you have done everything in your power to influence a situation, quit whining and start doing.
- Be coachable: Be a great listener, pay attention, and do what the coach tells you, even when you see others doing the opposite and being rewarded for it.
- If you are going to do something, do it right: Make a commitment and fulfill it. Do more than is asked, not simply the bare minimum required for participation. You can go fishing, go to that party, and go skiing when your commitment is done, but until then you owe it to your teammates to be all in.
- Be honest: When someone asks your opinion, tell the truth. It is not always easy, and it is not always fun, but one day you will have a reputation as a person who others can go to when they need a hard, honest truth, not just someone who makes you feel better. The former is a true friend, and the other is just a fan. Be a friend.
- Shake hands, look people in the eye, and say “thank you:” This demonstrates respect to coaches, officials and other people who have taken the time and effort to make your game, and your sport, possible.
- Be patient: Being really good at anything is a marathon. Some people may grow before you, and thus be bigger, faster and taller than you, but so what? That will all eventually even out, and then what? Will you be a better player, or someone who gave up because life didn’t hand you all the breaks right away?
- Embrace both failure and success: You want to do your best to win, but what matters more than the scoreboard is how you learned and developed. Don’t ignore mistakes because you won, and don’t dwell on them because you lost. Everyone makes mistakes, so you might as well make them trying to make a play, instead of trying not to make mistakes.
- Don’t slouch and pout: Your body language and your attitude matter. They affect how coaches, teammates and others perceive you, and if you are going to be a leader, no one really cares how you are feeling right now. Suck it up and be positive.
- Don’t hold a grudge: My dad coached high school soccer in various capacities for 17 years, and then was unceremoniously fired one season after a couple of parental complaints. I say unceremoniously because most years he donated his coaching salary to the school scholarship fund to help needy athletes. He bought equipment when the school had no budget. He ran extra training in the off season at no charge to players or families. It broke his heart when he was let go, and yet the next year he once again donated to the school scholarship fund. I asked him why. “They do a lot of good for so many kids,” he said. “It’s not those kids fault, and they should not be the ones who suffer.”
- Be humble: Whether you win or lose, be humble. It’s just a game, and today was your day. Tomorrow might be theirs. Respect the officials, coaches, and your opponents, because chances are you will see them again someday beyond the sports field, and what you do on it will affect how they think of you.