Posted by: David D. Daggett | August 14, 2018

Nobody Cares

Nobody Cares

            Well, okay, they do, but not in the way you think.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn as a young hard-charging triathlete when my ego and self-esteem were very attached to my results.

As athletes we are wired to measure ourselves by results.  We are very competition focused and want to succeed.  In youth sports we measured ourselves by wins and losses.  In the pool, on the track, or in a triathlon we measure ourselves by the clock.  If we don’t perform, we label ourselves a “failure.”

 I know she cares!

              Of course in triathlon or any sort of distance racing courses vary, competition varies, conditions change, terrain can be significantly different, and even set distances can vary.  Comparing times can, at least to some degree, be meaningless.  Yet, the questions and comparisons persist.  We continue to evaluate and compare our results.   We are hard on ourselves, and others are hard on us too, whether they know it or not.  The binary evaluative process either makes a result a negative, or puts pressure on us to meet some arbitrary standard.

               In addition to that, at some point as we age we are fighting a battle against consistently descending performance.  The result is that many athletes are frustrated and actually impacted negatively as they age even though they should be thankful for their health and fitness.  The outcomes of this negative psychology include turning to performance enhancing substances that produce adverse health consequences.

Always Celebrate a Finish

            Ironically, 99 percent of all of us competing in triathlons are doing this voluntarily, for recreation, and as part of our lifestyle.  Yet, we still allow that clock to define us.  It takes a bit more maturity to learn that winning really has nothing to do with your time or what’s on the scoreboard.  There is always somebody better or faster.  Winning, however, does have everything to do with giving your best every day.  Your best at work, your best to your family, your best spiritually and to your community, and of course doing the best you can on race day.

It took me many years to realize that the people that really love you and support you really do not particularly care with your result on race day.  What they care about is you, and if you are happy and satisfied then they are happy for you.  Many times, your loved ones don’t even know what your place or time is.  They just care about you.  They care about you as a person, not your time, your place, your trophies won, or your podium finishes.  Just you.

Doctor Kelly Crace at the College of William and Mary is the Vice President for Health and Wellness.  Dr. Crace has renowned expertise in performance psychology and has ongoing betterment sessions for students on “authentic excellence”.  Dr. Crace demonstrates how the constant evaluative process can create an ongoing negative psychology that limits performance, and then therefore limits fulfillment and satisfaction.  Once we remove ourselves from the evaluative gauntlet we are then free to perform even better.  As proof of his work, the very demanding academic atmosphere at the College of William and Mary has produced the No. 1 ranked school in the nation in student happiness.  Perhaps the pursuit of authentic excellence is working.

Likewise, Professor Morten Hansen in his books Great at Work and Great by Choice describes how individual comparisons limit performance and have a negative psychological impact.  Conversely, establishing a framework for ongoing betterment, improvement, and consistently pursuing excellence creates an atmosphere for higher performance.  More importantly, it also provides a framework for higher levels of fulfillment and satisfaction in life.

Another Fun Day with Great Friends

             Don’t get me wrong – I still want to perform the best I can.   Just remember, this is supposed to be fun.  It is supposed to build a healthy fitness lifestyle.   It encourages positive relationships and transfers to performance in other aspects of life too.  Just remember, whether internally or externally generated,  we don’t want our pleasure passion to become a negative due to an oppressive evaluative process.  I have pledged to always be happy, no matter the result (although I’d still like the result to happen as quickly as possible).

So, do they really care?  Of course they care…they care about you!

Glad they care,

David


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