In my quest to become a sports manager (more on that later), I had to take a course on sports leadership and motivation, and although I have always been a bit skeptical about people who teach leadership, I decided to pay attention in class, essentially because the professor was a 1968 Olympic Medal winner in Greco-Roman wrestling, and I was admittedly frightened. One of the first required readings turned out to be one of the most interesting things I have ever come across. Little did I know that it is known as one of the greatest motivational texts ever written, a Handbook by the 2nd Century Greek scholar Epictetus called “The Enchiridion”. In its opening verse, it discusses the vital distinction in life between the things we can control, and the things we cannot. Epictetus tells us that we should be concentrating all our energies on the things we can control, and that worrying about things we cannot control is not only futile, but often hindering.
Before we get to talk about inspirational stories or practical ways to motivate ourselves and get better results in sports, and in life, I want to spend my first blog by going back to basics, and using Epictetus to emphasize why the right motivation in sports is such a game changer. As in life, there are quite a few factors that affect performance in sports, and as Epictetus had predicted, some are in our control and others are not.
External factors such as weather, the venue or the quality of the opposition, are out of our control, and therefore, one can only be hindered by worrying about them or praying that they are favorable. The only thing that is in our control comes from the inside. Motivation and inner drive are the only factors that we have the power to influence, and therefore, as athletes, we have to understand where to channel our energies, because to be competitive, every drop of energy must be channeled in the right direction, and as they say, every drop counts.
As we will be talking more about motivation, leadership and inspiration in sports, it is essential to remember that inner motivation is not important; it is the only thing that matters, or at least, the only thing that matters that we have direct control over.
It turns out, even an ancient Greek philosopher can teach us something about sports, and although I am not a 150Kg washed-up Olympic wrestler, I hope to grab your attention with some unconventional topics to show that the secret to motivation is rooted in the simplest of concepts, and often, from the most unlikely of sources.
More: Every Hour Counts