In youth sports, everyone fixates on playing time. Hear any parent, on any field, in any season, and likely the conversation surrounds playing time.
I’ve been there. Usually the scenario is where you and your child believe he/she should be getting more playing time. More is better, right? I’ve found myself propagating these emotions.
Sometimes it even gets to the point where your child asks you tough questions like:
Why don’t I ever get into the games?
Why don’t I get a chance?
Why don’t the coaches like me?
Tough questions for a parent who loves his child.
Our typical reaction is one of defense, to assume an injustice is happening and to be angry. But we focus so much on the reward (playing time) that we forget about focusing our energy on what we can control (e.g., practice attitude, hustle, improving our game, and just being ourselves.)
If in our minds we can change the reward paradigm and focus it more internally, and live more in the moment, I think we’d be surprised that the rewards are right in front of us, and our energies are much better spent thinking about that.
And we all know this is not just about youth sports. Our lives, at work, are full of similar feelings and emotions. It might not be called playing time, but it’s definitely called promotion or opportunity. What we dwell on–or not–is our choice. Dwelling on what someone else got, that you didn’t, is the same mistake we make when we focus on playing time in youth sports.
There are rewards right in front of us, we just can’t always see them.
I tell my sons all the time that you should judge the season at the end of the season. Life is full of trials, and what you make of it defines your character.