Principle #3: Lead By Example
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. – LAOZI. PHILOSOPHER OF ANCIENT CHINA.
When you are Stoic your mind is clear. Your demeanor is calm. You move with apparent ease. When you aim to Become a Master, you practice deliberately. Your target is set, you know what to strive for, your intentions are clear. And you emphasize quality so success or failure does not define you. What matter most is what you learn along the way. You seek excellence.
You may come across an athlete not so fortunate. He or she may be agitated, reactive, misaligned, unsure and solely seeking achievement. These are traits that create a viscous cycle, each one reinforcing the others.
You may say: “Calm your mind”. “Take a deep breath”. “You need a target”. “Don’t worry if you fail”. But usually these cues will land on deaf ears. You must Show, not tell. You must Inspire, not motivate.
Whether you are the coach or a fellow athlete, always be in the state that you are trying to convey as being optimal. Lead by Example. You will attract attention. Athletes will seek your council. Then you show them how to do it themselves.
A Benevolent Athlete
Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater. – EMIL ZATOPEK, CZECH LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER.
The greatest satisfaction you will find in sport is through your interactions with others. You can accumulate personal bests, accolades, rewards, medals and championships. These are all great accomplishment. Surely memorable and worthwhile. However the people that you meet along the way will create the most cherished memories. your coaches, training partners, teammate and even competitions. People that help lead you to greatness and the people you help lead to excellence.
Forge camaraderie with companions and competitors alike.
Be charitable with your time and your knowledge. Arrive to practice early. Stay after practice late. Address the urgent needs of others before not-so-urgent needs of your own. Share something you know with someone that may not know.
Turn what is challenging, unpleasant or mundane into a pleasant, memorable and exciting experience. Inject humor or empathy or joyfulness. Do this for yourself. Do it for others.
Be the athlete that others look to for inspiration. Let your state of body and mind convey a message of greatness. The words you say are only secondary.
Be a leader. Lead by Example. Others will notice. And most importantly, so will your Self.
Competitors as Allies
There is nothing noble about being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self. – PROVERB
Humans are a cooperative species. When working together as a group every individual in the group and the group as a whole benefit. We all know this. But scarcity can lead to competitiveness. If there is not enough, or if it seems there is not enough, competition for the limited resource can arise. Competition is the only condition that many people have ever known.
Enter a race solely to win and you are forced to compete for a limited resource. There is only one first place medal. Focus on first place and you focus on scarcity. Competitors will be your enemy. Success is all that matters. You will hate losing. This is a mistake.
Instead, enter a race to better yourself and better the other athletes. View no athlete in the race as competition. They are your allies. Everyone has the same goal: cross the finish line. The power of a small cooperative group with a common goal is always greater than the sum of its individual parts. The combined power of everyone in the race can allow each athlete to surpass what he or she could have done alone.
In the race, when others surge, it is NOT to “break” you, it is to draw best out of you. When you surge, it NOT to “break” others, it is to draw the best out of them. Excellence is achieved in the midst of the race, not by the result at the finish. With the assistance of your allies, in the midst of the race, go beyond what you thought capable.
Will you cross the finish line first? Maybe, Maybe not. More important than this is to cross the line having surpassed what you could have done yourself alone. Turn competition into cooperation, competitors into allies. It does not matter whether others race this way. But you can race this way. Then Lead by Example.