So far this fall I’ve watched two weekends of high school football and one weekend of college football. I’m happy to see our student-athletes compete and the college athletes showcase their talents against other equally talented peers. I’ve always enjoyed the community and team aspect of football.
The uniqueness of roles is appealing. There is very little overlap. In sports like basketball and soccer everyone pretty much does everything. Baseball and softball have clear roles defensively while all come together offensively in virtually the same role.
In football, the clarity of role is refreshing. The quarterback takes the snap, hands the ball off, or throws it to a receiver. The linemen block. The running back runs the ball. The receiver catches the ball. The kicker kicks the ball. The team would be in trouble if, say, the linemen decided they would like to throw the ball rather than block or the running back would rather kick than run.
It’s truly poetry when everyone fills their role to the best of their ability and the play works to perfection. Each player can take pride in doing their job and contributing to the success of the play. Enough successful plays and the team wins the game, not enough and the team loses. It’s a pretty simple equation.
So, it makes sense that we should celebrate those positive plays throughout the game.
The more of them we have the better, right?
Why Should We Care?
Celebrations are driven by emotion. Emotions evoke feelings that inevitably impact our behaviors. It would be great if we could separate the two, but unfortunately we’re terrible at doing that. And, it’s naive to think we will be better in the future.
Our behaviors are central to our lives. They define who we are, as well as, who we will become. They determine where we are going and what we will accomplish. It’s our behaviors that dictate our priorities and identify our mission. These behaviors are initiated by either our identity or our emotions. One is inherently better than the other.
If our emotions drive our behaviors then they will ride the same tidal waves as those emotions. The behaviors that we depend on to execute and perform will be the pawns of our feelings. As a result, our identity will merely be the varying reflection of our feelings. We will be who our feelings say we are in that moment. And, that rollercoaster is a really hard one to get off of.
The other option is to discipline ourselves to allow our behaviors, then our feelings, to flow from our identity rather than the other way around. When we are in tune with our identity we establish a consistency in our actions that stabilizes our emotions. Thus, we free ourselves from the ebbs and flows of the emotional rollercoaster.
Our performance is always best with option two.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Back to the celebrations. Imagine the drastic fluctuation in emotions throughout a game. With every play benefitting your team comes a rush of positive emotions. This tidal wave, though desired in the moment, is something you will undoubtedly need to come down and recover from. Just consider how many of those plays could happen during the course of a game. We spend more time regulating our feelings than we do focusing on our responsibilities and our team.
Here are few ideas on working from our identity rather than our feelings:
Competition is an emotional endeavor. Nothing is wrong with having them or sharing them. However, in order to be at our best we must regulate them. Allowing our identity to determine our behaviors and our behaviors to direct our emotions we set the stage for our best to consistently show up. Plus, we don’t look like we’re shocked to make a good play!
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.