Euro 2012: What can we learn from team sports?
Every experience has a message.
I live with a Manchester United Fan ‘from before they were big‘ and despite years of protesting that ‘I don’t do spectator sports’ I get drawn in and caught up with each game and always feel recharged and ready to put 100% back into whatever I left to watch the match. (Or what I like to call, ‘his show’ – only to wind him up.)
There’s just so many lessons to take from team sports and apply to the game of life. A game everyone can win with the right attitude.
So while I could wax-on about work ethic, being a team player, sportsmanship and many, many more merits of team sports, I want to dedicate this post to optimism because this attribute plays a key role in life achievement. A key role in right now, the way you live out this gift, the present.
As Pooh said, er, um, I mean A. A. Milne:
What day is it? (asked Pooh) It’s today (squeaked Piglet.) My favorite day (said Pooh).
In this age of social media so many of us only see life as real when it is recorded and published – put out into the world, or during the big blockbuster events of our lives when we are under the spotlight, at the alter or on the podium. But it is all the moments in between – all the ups and even all the downs, that make life everything we want it to be.
We need both to learn. There’s no diamond without pressure or pearl without sand – which is why there is always, always reason for optimism.
In a recent interview, Anderson Cooper very eloquently supported this point by asking Madonna if her mother’s death may have contributed to her success, by quoting American Author Mary Gordon who said:
A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe.
Madonna’s response was that not having a mother hindered and helped her because while she didn’t feel rooted anywhere it gave her the freedom to move to New York and go after her dreams.
The good news is that many scientists (and many more pessimists!) thought that our outlooks on life were set in stone the day we were conceived. However research now suggests that nature only makes up 30 to 40 percent of our attitude and with a little training we can learn to gear into a more positive mode and nurture this outlook through our actions.
Elaine Fox is a professor of cognitive psychology, leading voice in the study of optimism and author of Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain and her findings show that persistence is key.
Sir Winston Churchill agrees. He once stated, success is the:
Ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
Optimists believe they can change things, which gives them a sense of control, which makes them more optimistic, which helps them believe they can change things…
We always hear about Brad Pitt’s success as a Hollywood A-lister and forget to encourage everyone with the importance of everything that brought him there, like how he (almost too-trite-to-be-true) dressed up daily as the El Pollo Loco Chicken for the fast food chain in order to pay for his acting classes.
We need to know this stuff. We need to talk about these stories of dogged determination.
A 2005 University of Kentucky study found that people who were optimistic spent a minute longer trying to solve an unsolvable anagram word puzzle than those who were more pessimistic. Fox said:
They literally don’t give up as easily and this links to greater success in life.
And this is why many teams win in the dying minutes – if not moments – of a footie match.
On a lighter note, how can one write about optimism without including Monty Python’s most famous song, “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”:
Who Is… your favourite Euro 2012 Player and what is his most stand-out attribute?
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