Athletes know how to get better at sports, but what about at life?

By Drake Fages

When I was 11 years old my parents sat me down and told me that I needed to make a decision. In classic “mom” fashion, she made me chicken nuggets (to calm my nerves of course) and proceeded to tell me that I had a choice to make. I needed to move my talents all into transitioning from roller to ice hockey or completely focus on travel baseball. As I dipped my nuggets into a saucer of ketchup I thought about which one I was better at. I thought about the friends I had in each, the success I had, and which one would I would want to focus on more. Note: I was 11 and I am sure the chicken nuggets had most of my attention. 

I ended up choosing baseball. If you saw me on ice-skates now you would understand. 

As I began to focus more on baseball I realized that there were some aspects of the game I was naturally good at, and that there were things that I needed to improve. Along with the feedback of my coaches, parents, and friends I began to recognize my shortcomings. I started diagnosing my strengths and weaknesses. I intentionally started to become self-aware of myself as a baseball player. 

NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young said, “The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, and being better than you were the day before.”

Athletes know exactly what Steve is talking about. We understand that this important posture of self-awareness and pursuit of improvement never stops. When it does- you lose.  

Why is this so natural to athletes? Why do we consider this one of the most fundamental essentials to growing and being the best? 

More importantly, why doesn’t this same attitude and vigor of improvement translate to our everyday life? We forget to look at life outside of sports with the same lens of continuous improvement, striving to get better, and focus to reach our goals.

It’s because while we’re playing we don’t need to. 

Playing sports provides the construct for a productive and fulfilling life. The big questions about life are answered for us when we’re playing. Being on a team provides a mission for us to pursue with our lives, a group of people to belong to, a significant contribution to make, and a clear concept of who we can become. 

Life has been organized for us since we joined our very first team. 

While playing our sport we have a self-awareness of tangible skills we must improve on the playing field. We work hard to improve the fundamentals of our form, our mindset, the way we prepare, and communicate. In life, too, we must grow to become self-aware of what makes us function at our best/worst. When we do this, just like in our sports, we become self-sufficient, self-confident, and we have clarity to which direction our lives should go. 

At YouSchool Athletics we give athletes the chance to self-reflect, discover truth through facilitated interactions with peers, and guide them through a process of self-discovery to organize their lives beyond sports. We see athletes own their story inside and outside their sport to maximize their purpose now and in their future. Finding your purpose is a process, and the earlier you start, the better.

Contact us today to learn how The YouSchool Athletic Program can be customized for your environment.

Drake Fages is a bearded mystery. One moment he's laughing at his own jokes with a group of coaches, the next minute he's challenging a student to work harder. He is a carpenter-in-training, a lifelong Dodgers fan, and an aficionado of plaid. After a career detour selling medical devices, he has found his sweet spot working with student-athletes, coaches, and parents at the YouSchool. Connect with Drake on LinkedIn and Twitter.