What if we said to each talented youngster: “We don’t care if you win or not, we just want you to see what you’ve got. So…go out, play hard and enjoy yourself!”?
What if we offered sport to athletes as a vehicle for the expression of their gifts; a way to experience themselves, to discover, explore and expand their inherent capacities?
What if instead of invalidating it, we encouraged their natural passion to simply play?
What if athletes never considered cheating or engaged in poor sportsmanship because it brought them no benefit in the things that really mattered?
What if, as their skills were nurtured and trained, athletes were encouraged to dream – To dream of uncovering the ultimate extent of their ability until their true potential could be revealed upon the field of competition?
What if they were taught to understand that the fastest way to arrive at their potential was to challenge themselves at the very edge of their skills – To continually take risks, dare the unknown and seriously confront the so-called “impossible”?
What if they were asked to find ways of making “original” errors; the kind of mistakes they’d never made before? What if they were taught to make them willingly, each time assimilating new knowledge the experience delivered and expanding their performance horizons accordingly?
What if they came to know that such errors would never bring criticism or negative responses, even if they resulted in defeat? And only “old” or repeated errors were limiting and therefore undesirable.
What if the resultant life lessons weren’t focused on finding ways to defeat opponents within the confines of arbitrary, often nonsensical scoring systems, or continually attempting to prove oneself to others by beating someone else?
What if the motivating force behind athletic efforts was NOT founded on fear of losing…but a love of the game and the purity of experience it could bring?
What if the compulsive need to win was replaced by another, equally powerful motivating force – Something that intrinsically inspired athletes to performances in ways winning could never do?
What if every time they played, athletes were asked only to “be the absolute best they could be”, using whatever resources they had naturally available? What if they knew their total commitment and genuine intention were enough and that results would take care of themselves? What if this philosophy was applied from the first time they stepped onto the court, through club, regional, national and even Olympic competition, to the day they retired?
What if these airy-fairy notions were treated as real and important…and not airy-fairy notions?
What if, indeed.
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