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Friday, January 25, 2013

Sport is Life: Discipline

Family –

As I sit here writing part three of our mini-series on “Sport is Life,” I’m reminded of my humble beginnings in a small town in North Central Florida with only three stoplights. There wasn’t much to do… no movie theater, no game room, no boys & girls club and when I wanted to join boy scouts mom was told… “We don’t want your kind in here.”

Gotta love good ol ’Chiefland, Florida…which is a completely different blog entry! 

Let’s dive into the third installment in our mini-series: “Sport is Life” shall we?

What do you think of when you think of discipline? I usually think of an enlisted person… a Marine, Army Navy or Air Force service person. Someone who has to live with discipline or the consequences could be dire. I also think of my time playing football and the discipline it took to work out, eat right, watch film and perform at an optimum level each time.

I had the fortune of training with a man who is generally credited with bringing Bo Jackson back from his hip injury… Mack Newton. Mack was a two-time world champion in Tae-Kwon-Do and Vietnam Veteran. His dojo was in Phoenix and he never, ever, EVER turned on the air in the dojo… wait… did I mention the dojo was in Phoenix?

Mack described discipline as “doing what you should do when you should do it whether you like it or not.” Seems kinda blunt huh? If you think about it no one ever wants to practice all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing a sport at a high level, defending this great nation of ours or working in corporate America.

Being disciplined is difficult… let’s just put that out there… however the rewards for incorporating it into your life are magnanimous (I think this used to be an SAT word)! Imagine the focus and discipline it takes to become a high ranking officer in the armed forces (i.e., a General). What about the discipline it takes to become one of the best athletes at your specific sport – in the entire world! Think of the many great people there are in this world and you can probably bet they have discipline in common.

Dalai Lama at prayer
Photo: AP
Ok… here comes the question. 

So if we know discipline is a tough thing to live with, yet we see how well it works in the lives of others who have been tremendously successful… then why wouldn’t we strive to live as disciplined a lifestyle as we can? Not New Years' resolutions, but making a concerted effort to change how we do things for the better. In the words of great Collegiate Hall of Fame Coach Grant Teaff: “Total effort is hard to accomplish, but the willingness to try is essential.”  

How about this? Take one thing… a small thing and gradually work at it… kinda like when you were working on a part of your game to get better (like shooting free-throws). Work at it every day a little bit….and even when you don’t want to work on it… DO IT ANYWAY! It takes hard work and discipline to achieve greatness. Effort, attitude, focus… all those things we were taught as young people through sport are needed now (more than ever) in our lives.

There’s no running, ducking or hiding from the fact that effort requires discipline. Discipline requires good preparation. Preparation requires good focus. Focus requires the desire, the fight… the tenacity to stand when no one else has the strength or the nerve.

As Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." In other words we need reps...  not just in sports… but in everything we do…  Let's go people; "line it up and run it again." 

Sport is Life.

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