Bench Warmers and Game Changers

There are a lot of things I want my daughters to learn from sports. One girl is playing soccer now in the nine and ten-year-old coed league and what I would most like her to learn is that you will never be anything but a sideline player if you wait for the action to come to you. To be more than that requires everything you have.

The best players on the field tend to be the older boys who aggressively chase the ball. Other boys, and most of the girls, swarm around the ball and kick at it when it rolls by wherever they are standing. Of course, there are rules for good soccer and the more aggressive players will have to learn to temper their aggression and play by those rules if they keep playing. At a certain level, aggressive ball play has to give way to staying in your position and guarding your lane.

This is true in almost everything. Aggression doesn’t have to be messy and you don’t have to leave a trail of broken bones or bruised relationships behind you. But if you don’t show up and if you don’t chase after what you want with a reckless abandon, if you just sit back and wait for the book deal or a call from the gallery or for the weight to magically fall off, well, you will get out of it exactly what you’ve put in to it. Not much. The same goes for every shortcut ever invented. You will get to play for a few minutes each round and might get a trophy over a pizza lunch when the season ends, but that’s it. And that may be enough. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with dipping a toe in and trying it out. Maybe you’ve decided that you don’t like soccer. Or writing. Or engineering. Fine. Just make sure you’ve given it a real shot before you dump it for something else.

If your goal is something more, if you want to be a game changer, if you want to define the position you’re playing, then you’re going to have to dive in, risk getting hurt, and look for the biggest mess. That’s where the action is.

Good luck!


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