November 3, 2019

Youth Sports Taught Me to Pass to the Star

On a regular basis I hear people talking about all the wonderful benefits of youth sports: teamwork, winning/loosing gracefully, setting goals, and so on.? As my kids get older, it got me thinking about the couple times I played competitive youth sports and whether I thought it was worthwhile.? I was a smart, shy kid who was not particularly good at sports.? None the less, I played a season of soccer and a season of basketball.

When I look back on these seasons, a couple lessons come to mind:

  1. Make sure the best people are in the game when it counts
  2. If you’re in the game, not the star, and get the ball…pass the ball to the star

See, I was never a starter, unless the game wasn’t important.? I generally played in the middle, assuming the score wasn’t critical.? I only played at the end if the game was already decided, for better or worse.? If it was important, I was off the court.? If I was on the court, got the ball, and the game was even remotely important, the expectation was that I would pass the ball to one of the good kids to make the shot.? I made very few shots during games in basketball and the only one I remember was the one that missed horribly.

This all got me thinking about my career in business.? More often than not, when there was an important situation, I’d “pass to the star”.? It took many shapes and colors:

  1. That’s an important sales pitch, let someone else make it
  2. That’s an important decision, I’ll ask my boss what to do
  3. That’s an important presentation, who’s better qualified than me to present
  4. Only so many people can go on that trip, probably someone else should go instead

All the while, I’d be trying to convince myself and others that I WAS the star and deserved to be given the shot to make.? In sports, I knew I was NOT the star, but in business I thought I should/could be, but didn’t have the confidence to become it.? Also, there wasn’t room in my worldview for equals.? I had learned in sports that there are a few stars, the mediocre, and the bottom, and being a “team player” means that the bottom and middle pass to the stars.

As I’ve begun running my own business, I still find myself dealing with this phenomenon.? ?Except now I have no idea who to pass to.? I still struggle with being willing to take the winning shot.? I want to pass the shot to the star, but there’s no one else to pass to, so I shakily take the shot myself.? As I’ve made more winning shots, I’ve built up more confidence, and I’m gradually changing this mindset, but it’s hard work.? It’s also hard work to not only think of myself as “a star”, but to not mentally feel like that must mean someone else ISN’T.? Maybe we can all be stars and we can pass round the circle?

What are your thoughts?? Were you a successful youth athlete?? Did you get a star mentality?? Have you broken out of it?? Was it difficult?? Were you more like me and did you get a “not star” mentality?? How did theythat work for you? For everyone, looking back as an adult, assuming your sports career ended in college or before, do you think the time and money you and your family devoted to sports was worth it?? Do you think the lessons you learned were mostly valuable?? Have you been able to apply them to you career, or like me have you had to unlearn them?

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