Lessons learned through sport

I love sport!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t play any sport unless drinking lots of flavoured green tea & munching on carrots count. Again, don’t get me wrong – I’m not a health food fanatic, I can quite happily polish off KFC, McDonald’s chicken nuggets, Big Macs, fish & chips, takeaways (Caribbean, Chinese, Indian), pizza and feel hungry an hour later. I just happen to like glugging green tea (lemon, lime & tropical are my particular fave flaves) & chomping carrots (pre-sliced…no need to peel/chop whole carrots). If I eat them straight out of the pack, I can even almost kid myself that I’m scoffing a packet of crisps…ok, maybe that’s stretching even my vivid imagination a bit far!

Anyway, that’s another blog waiting to happen right there!…back to sport. I was the kid at school back in the 80s who couldn’t throw, catch, run or jump – even doing a forward roll in gymnastics brought me out in a sweaty, anxious mess. As for swimming, well….doggy paddle was about all I could manage, usual scenario watching others speed up & down the lanes while I struggled to finish one length by the end of the lesson. What made it worse was that I had an athletic frame which meant everyone initially assumed I could do all of those things, no bother. They soon learnt not to judge a book by its cover – I’d like to think I helped them to learn that valuable life lesson!

Fast forward two decades (not sure if that sounds better than saying 20 years – either way, where did the time go!!!) to my own kids’ school days. I discovered my competitive, sporting streak in the mums’ race. Something about wanting to set an example to my kids of how important it is to try your best, have fun and accept losing or winning gracefully made me step up to the starting line every time determined not to embarrass them. That and conveniently forgetting how unsporty I was at school, sizing up the other mums and thinking “I can beat you, gonna leave you for dust…”, seeing my kids watching from the sidelines and the winner’s prize of a large box of chocolates and/or a bottle of wine. I remember running so hard that I very often ended up crashing into the trees & bushes at the bottom of the racetrack because I couldn’t stop once I’d gathered momentum. I walked away with the winner’s prize a couple of times which was a huge surprise to me but, more importantly, I felt all warm & gooey seeing & hearing my kids cheer me on, seeing their grins when I crossed the line (1st or otherwise) and then joking & laughing about the whole Sports Day on the way home.

So many lessons learned during that time:

  • acknowledge & respect your life experiences as an important part of self reflection to help you recognise how far you’ve come & how much you’ve grown
  • but allowing yourself to be defined by how you were previously perceived can hold you back from moving forward & redefining who you want to be
  • mindset goes a long way to how you set, approach & accomplish your goals
  • being accountable to someone who believes in you and wants the best for you can give you added motivation and determination; family members, friends, colleagues, mentors – cheerleaders are there in all aspects of your life
  • the most important thing is getting yourself on that starting line – once you start & build momentum you may be surprised at how quickly things progress
  • learn when & how to slow down so that you’re not going so fast that you can’t enjoy actually accomplishing your goal – there’ll always be another race to run so take time to appreciate & celebrate crossing the finish line of the race you’re currently in.

The past few weeks I’ve watched the London Marathon, several youth football matches and the Anthony Joshua vs Klitschko fight. No, I definitely won’t be running 26 miles anytime soon (although I’ve just started my Fitbit Fitstar personal training so who knows…), or stepping into the boxing ring (although public transport during rush hour seems a lot more physically demanding) but sport teaches us so many work/life lessons about having a goal and working out how you’re going to accomplish it, having a good support network, pacing and pushing yourself at the right balance, digging deep when you hit a wall & may think there’s nothing left for you to give, acknowledging those who have motivated & believed in you….then factor in some wind-down, rest, reflect, & re-energise without feeling any guilt in taking good care of your physical & mental wellbeing.

That’s why I love sport!

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