Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Championship Standards
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Reading the sports section of the newspaper the other day (yes, I know that is the equivalent of a dinosaur in most people’s homes), I came upon an article expressing a coach’s thoughts and found it to be rich with valuable nuggets.
As I’ve said many times in this space, I believe that sports contain a plethora of golden nuggets quite applicable to everyday life. This particular coach is the “front man” for a team that is struggling with consistency and is in the midst of a “rebuilding year,” yet he is intent on inspiring his athletes to stay in the fight.
Humor me as I list some of his diamonds of wisdom:
- You don’t have to win a World Series to be a Champion! Isn’t it true that many times we attribute success only to those who have reached the pinnacle? It’s important to set goals, even lofty ones, but it is also important to recognize small successes along the way and celebrate those! When we are always striving but not giving ourselves the opportunity to bask in the smaller steppingstones of accomplishment, we will burn out! When you drive, drive, drive each day … but don’t give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back along the way … you will crash eventually. Alternately, if you don’t give yourself credit for accomplishments along the way, the all-too-spotlighted goal might seem ho-hum once it is accomplished. You can think, “Is this all there is?” So go ahead – set your goals, but be sure to celebrate along the way!
- A Champion has many facets besides the “ring”! For an athlete, the ultimate prize possession of a winning season is the championship ring awarded for the accomplishment. But more people don’t win rings than those who do. Does that mean those who don’t have something flashy to show for a goal are not as important and worthy as those who do? Absolutely not! While there is no “participation medal” in adulthood, there is that inner sense of satisfaction and pride that comes from tackling obstacles, overcoming adversities and knocking down barricades on the way to the ultimate goal! It’s not just the ring that counts … it’s the determination, grit and grind along the way that feel so good!
- You can hold yourself to Championship Standards daily! How do you live day-to-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute? Have you thrust a stake in the ground that exemplifies a strong commitment to live daily in the mindset of high standards? If you have, you have mandated for yourself:
- I will do things the right way!
- I will prepare for each day the right way!
- If competition is required, I will compete the right way!
- I will treat others the right way!
- I will fulfill my roles as husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, friend, neighbor — the right way!
- I will make my mark on the world the right way!
- You can be a Champion in life! Sure, receiving the accolades, admiration, awe and adoration of the multitudes can feel very, very good. BUT … being a champion every single day, because of choices one can make in having the right attitude, bringing a smile to others’ faces, lifting up someone who is hurting, championing another for a job well done and elevating the down-trodden – now THAT is the life of a true champion! There is no World Series, Big Dance, Stanley Cup or Olympics for that type of champion, but the rewards felt are just as meaningful, nevertheless!
So perhaps you can decide to hold yourself to Championship Standards every day! Every now and then we find ourselves in a “rebuilding year” (coming off a big disappointment, dealing with unwelcome change, managing heartbreak or dismay or sadness), but that is no reason to throw in the towel and coast through life. Rather, it is time to dig inside and awaken the fight!
Oh, of course the Enemy will want to knock you down, will call your quest insignificant and will laden you down with obstacles and barriers. But for those of us who know the Savior, we also know the ultimate reward is worth it!
Daily, perhaps you can challenge yourself to strive for the Championship Life that really counts! A “World Series” ring may be waiting … but if not, the trip is still worth it!