Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness

It was high counsel that I once heard
given to a young person- "Always do
what you are afraid to do"

Take calculated risks.
That is quite different from
being rash.
George S. Patton

After the game
the king and the pawn
go into the same box
-Italian proverb

A good athlete always mentally replays
a competition over and over,
even in victory, to see
what might be done to
improve the performance
the next time.
-Frank Shorter

It is about the game after all now isn't it?? The game of life. The game of work. The game of love. And whatever other realm you chose to enter to compete. The irony is amazing.

So here it is I am starting the parallel journey of competing as a team alongside my dogs, that reflects my evolution as a human. Now that is IRONIC. This is not the first or the last competition that I have encountered. It may be the toughest, that is yet to be foretold. It may be the purest of all competitions. I can train for it in the rain with a flock of soggy ewes, guiding them for hours while they graze... and my mind wanders, but my dog never does.

I have always been competitive. From the time I was very young I have had to strive for survival. Twice before I was 3 I ate toxic substances on our family ranch landing me in ICU in critical situations. I was tough and mean, the nurses didn't like seeing me back a second time. I didn't like seeing them either!!!

March Madness leads us to the big national basketball tournament that happens this time every year. So I will skip to the college basketball playing days. Two of my four years we won our conference tournament and proceeded on the road to the "Big Dance". That level of competition for me was bitter-sweet. Sweet, because it was my 'DREAM', and I was living it. Bitter, because no one can prepare you for that level of intense scrutiny and competition. I love pure competition. But life is not always that pure.

Things I learned to take into life from my college days of competing. I love my team. A true team sticks together through thick and thin. All parts of the team rely on each other, and you truly are only as strong as your weakest link. I learned how to be a "role" player. Even if I thought (and I could) be the ONE.... I was ok with not being the ONE, as long as we were able to succeed. And when the chosen ones failed, I would always fill the role and ensure victory without honor. The closer!!! And that is truly a tough role to play. I learned to be a "decoy". I would do the hard work and run the gambit knowing that I would allow another honor, but ultimately the victory for the team. I was a student of the game. I learned everything forward and backward. I saw nuances that the coach would never see. I set us up for success. And in the end I did not quit!!! The contradiction in that was that I probably should have. At the super high insane stress level that we operated at....being the team captain and point guard I was the easy target for the infuriated coach. He knew I could take anything he would dish out... and I did. To a point, that I actually lost respect for myself. I would not stand up for myself. I would not quit. At what price??? I am still not sure.

However, I take into life, and into my training that there is a higher good. Winning is not the ultimate goal. Purity of competition is. Excellence. The zone. Never compromise yourself or your dog for the game. Always seek the zone.... Not easy to find, but once you've been there, you know!

If you don't invest very much, then defeat doesn't hurt very much
and winning in not very exciting.
-Dick Vemeil

The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel
are the things that endure. These qualities
are so much more important than the
events that occur.
-Vince Lombardi

Do not let what you cannot do
interfere with what you can do
-John Wooden

Be more concerned with your character
than with your reputation. Your
character is what you really are
while your reputation is merely what
others think you are.
-John Wooden

I've always made a total effort, even when
the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying;
I never felt that I didn't have a chance to win.
-Arnold Palmer