Here is what I learned from eight 5A state championships wins, an induction into the Colorado Sports Women Hall of Fame, four years of Division 1 diving at two different Universities, multiple NCAA Championship appearances, one Team USA international competition, and about a million failures, losses, and heartbreaks along the way.
Please enjoy part one: If you’re not an athlete, just know that every word on this page (and the coming pages) is for you too. These lessons are about life, learned through sport.
1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Your perception of what is normal will completely be flipped on its head. You’ll train longer, harder, faster, and with more intensity and pressure than you’ve ever experienced. It is incredibly uncomfortable; painful even.
Learn how to be comfortable and stable when life is stressful and uncomfortable. The sooner you can adjust to this new normal and accept it as your normal, the faster you will move on to the next stages.
This is how life works, embrace change. The harder you fight against it or the longer you compare your new normal to your old normal, the longer you will stay uncomfortable. Lean into change. Especially change that challenges you, because it will not only bring out the best in you, but it will dissolve the weakness in you.
If you embrace the discomfort with all you have, you’ll find yourself a new person capable of things your old comfort zone could have never afforded, doing things that others cannot and will not be able to do.
You’ll even find yourself praying for challenging situations or circumstances because what causes other people to crumble and break, will be what allows you to stand firm and shine; we call it “praying for rain”.
2. Fear is a real thing, but you are under no obligation to listen to it. That’s it. No fancy words on this one. Recognize your fear, but don’t give it an audience. It doesn’t and shouldn’t control you; its an emotion not a dictator.
Whenever I caught myself being afraid of a dive I would literally close my eyes, picture what I was afraid of and pause it like a move. I would then visualize the point I was most afraid of (like hitting the board), and shatter it into a million little pieces, I would dissolve it into nothing.
I recognized the fear, destroyed it in my mind first, and then went on to do the very things that scared me. Fear has no place in a life as purposeful as yours.
3. Pain is a good thing. Just because something hurts does not mean that it is bad. We are incredibly pain adverse in this country. We have removed it from all parts of modern life. But pain can be good. Don’t live life avoiding it, live life respecting it.
Not only does pain make you stronger, but it creates a thankfulness and gratefulness for health and wholeness that would otherwise be taken for granted. Let pain teach you lessons that health could not. Let it be a dose of medicine that reminds you to be thankful for what you have, while you have it.
Accepting and respecting pain will allow you to see the larger picture at hand by taking the focus on what you can’t do to what you can do, and you can do a lot of great things. Everyone wants to reach their goals, but most aren’t willing to accept that there will be pain along the way. Yes, pain hurts… but that is the point.
You cannot go where you are called to go without experiencing pain; so it’s best to respect pain for what it is and take with you its precious lessons.
4. Humility is an even greater thing. It’s obvious that arrogant people are rough to be around, but in your spirit, when your coach or teammate criticize and get on you, do you get defensive?
You may nod your head and look like your listening, but hows your heart? Are you truly allowing their words an opportunity to be heard, or are you going about your sport (or your life) with the idea you’ve mastered it all or that your coach is wrong? Can you take criticism, especially hard criticism, without a defensive spirit.
Put your pride aside, and allow yourself to be truly coached and corrected. From experience, the more you can allow yourself to take criticisms and the hard truths about yourself that you don’t want to hear, with an open heart and mind, eventually the less there is to criticize.
The minute you feel like you deserve to be on that team, is the minute you should take a step back and examine your humility.
Points 5-10… TO BE CONTINUED.