What can we learn from team sports?

Optimism - Who Is NOBODY?

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 into each game. After the match is over I always feel ready to put 100% back into whatever I was doing before the game began. (I generally refer it as “his show” – only to wind him up.)

There’s so many great lessons to take from team sports that can be applied to life; a game everyone can win, with the right attitude.

While I could wax-on about work ethic, being a team player, sportsmanship and many other merits of team sports, I want to focus on optimism. Why? This attribute plays a key role in making things that matter to us, happen. Choosing to see the glass as half full improves any experience.

A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe— Anderson Cooper, journalist
In this age of social media, too often life can only feel real when it’s recorded and published. Or during the big blockbuster events of our lives. But most of life is the moments in between; all the ups and downs.

We need both these extremes to learn. There’s no diamond without pressure or pearl without sand – which is why there is always, always reason for hope.

In a recent interview, Anderson Cooper asked Madonna if her mother’s death may have contributed to her success. To explain what he meant he quoted Author Mary Gordon, “A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe”.

Optimism - Who Is NOBODY?

Sir Winston Churchill – An inspirational optimist


Madonna’s response, which supported this point, was that not having a mother hindered and helped her. While she didn’t feel rooted anywhere, this feeling 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.

These are very optimistic findings!

Elaine Fox is a professor of cognitive psychology and a leading voice in the study of optimism.

Ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm— Sir Winston Churchill, politician
She is the 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 stories of how he got there. Did you know he dressed up daily as the El Pollo Loco Chicken (mascot for a fast food chain) in order to pay for his acting classes?

We need to know this stuff to put challenging experiences into perspective.

They literally don’t give up as easily and this links to greater success in life— Elaine Fox is a professor of cognitive psychology

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 song, “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”?:

Who Is… your favourite footie (soccer!) player and what is your favourite attribute? Is it initiative, honesty, responsibility, determination, respect … or optimism?

Change starts with kids.

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By | 2018-02-18T22:58:17+00:00 June 14th, 2012|NOBODY Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Who Is NOBODY? is a literacy-based bullying prevention program for Grades 1 – 12 that applies the curriculum to real-life experiences. Students build self-esteem by discovering their strengths and using them to help others.

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