The Competitive Want

Athletes all have the same goal.  It’s handed to them the first day of little league or church basketball practice.  Get better at this.  They’re given a coach, schedule, space, and playmates. All they have to do is show up.

A structure and system is put in place for self-improvement.  There is a brain working for you, and a heart hell-bent on motivating you to continue.  You are gifted every conceivable resource to succeed, and failure is never mentioned or thought about.  Who wouldn’t fall in love with this arrangement?

Who wouldn’t come to rely on this plan?

The competitive want is to keep training with a purpose.   By becoming elite, by playing in college and/or professionally, the athlete can preserve their identity.  They can keep practicing and training.  They can keep getting better at what the world has told them they’re best at.

photo credit: coastalpoint.com via ryan saxton
Being competitive equals relevance.

Even when the wins get hard to come by, the dreams of future victories propel the hero on.  The hard work has to pay off.  All the stories ever told confirm it.  They’ve just got to get better at this.

The goal remains the goal.

Half the time it’s not even about winning.  It’s about enduring.

Rocky was an iconic example.  He kept showing up and just refused to quit.  He was willing to do anything to stop being a loser.  Winning was never his goal.  It brought pressures and expectations that scared him.  The man really just liked to train.  Becoming a champion was a consequence.

  
photo credit: tumblr.com

Aspirations come from playing, not watching.  Has-beens aren’t sure what to practice.  Athletes without a sport aren’t sure what to do with themselves.  The clarity of life dissapates, and showing up doesn’t guarantee anything anymore.
The competitive want is to keep things simple and spelled out for them.  To do what their told and have a team of support they can depend upon.  To be convinced of forward progress is to have everything, but practice lacks conviction when there’s no more games to play. 
Left alone to your own design, the work of getting better becomes staggering.  The effort and thought necessary for planning and goal setting makes the execution seem painless.  Being an athlete was easy; and it’s all you’ve ever done.  Without a coach or guide programming practice, there is less certainty of improvement.  Confidence in self becomes as questionable as what to work on next and what’s the point of it all, anyway?     

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