Michael Bryan enjoyed playing sports. Little did he know the life lessons he would take from them. He shares about those lessons here.
Have you seen the ads from Enterprise Rent A Car? The ads where Enterprise touts hiring former college athletes at the their car rental locations throughout the US. Well there is a reason behind this and it’s pretty smart on their part. Let’s dig deeper into it and understand how that applies to our lives as men and fathers.
In a 2012 study, researchers at Indiana State University found that student athletes out earn non student athletes by $5,000 per year. That’s pretty significant. What does that mean for those of us who participated in high school or college sports at lower levels?
Organized sports show us that we are taught lifetime skills but many of us fail to fully use them as adults. By taking these forgotten skills, we can be better fathers, husbands and employees.
Let me start out by saying that in high school my sport of choice was soccer and I was a goalkeeper. In high school, I made all conference honorable mention.
In college I went on to play club soccer at Ball State University. You can see while I had mild success on the field, the skills I garnered have lasted lifetime.
Here is a list of nine skills what I learned and apply to my life as a father now. While I am not perfect in all these, I do strive to be better everyday.
1. Be Prepared
If you have watched any pro or college sports behind the scenes shows, you see the players breaking down film, walking through their game plans or hitting the weight room. You get the idea that they are getting prepared for the game ahead.
So how can we do that as dads? We can look at our kids schedules for the week ahead and make sure we are present and involved at their activities. Better yet, as husbands we can prepare to make dinner three nights a week. Or plan your next family vacation.
Parenting is a visual game. Our kids see our activities and model them. Prepare for the week ahead or someone or something will do it for you.
2. Seeing Patterns
As a goalie, it was my job to see how the opposing team set up their offense and help our players be in the right place to defend better. This meant seeing patterns in other players.
For example, I noticed that a star forward for the other team used the same move to his right. Through previous discussions (preparation) with my defenders, I would shout out “force him left”. What do you know, we held that star player to a few shots and no goals.
How can we use this at home? I know when I help my son with his homework, patterns are in use all over the place. Show your kids that patterns are in use in homework, nature, sports and life.
As humans we tend to crave patterns. Patterns or routines take us to that happy, predictable place. Patterns make our lives more productive by showing paths to success through repeatable methods.
3. Hard Work Will Pay Off
Hard work is the foundation in which the United States was built on. Immigrants came here to escape a limited “Old Country” where they were once locked into a fixed, almost feudal life. America offered the opportunity for a better life if you worked hard and provided value to others. I believe that this is still the case.
I know as a kid growing up, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to go to expensive goalkeeper camps in the summer. So I read books on the
subject and spent hours in the backyard learning how to be the best goalie I could. That later translated into a starting goalie in high school and college.
We can show our children that practicing an instrument, working hard on homework or practicing a skill in sports can have benefits further down the road. Put in the time now, gain later.
4. Finding Your State of Flow
Most sports people refer to this as “being in the zone”. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed this concept in the 1970’s at the University of Chicago. The essence of what he found is that when we are in a “state of flow” in our work, hobby, sport or other activity, we lose track of time and space. In this state, we are usually at our best creatively and physically.
I can recall some games that I was really on as a goalie, nothing was getting by me. I was in the moment and had no idea how much time was left in the game. I can honestly say that there are times at work when I am into what I am doing. Hours into a project I will look at the clock and think “where did the morning go?”.
How can we apply this to our lives at home? Be present, put a away your smartphone, electronics and just be in the moment with your kids. Give
them everything you can when you are home. Your kids are kids only young once. Be there. Now.
5. Working for a Cause
In my college soccer experience, we had kids from Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Luxembourg and Pakistan. We all had different experiences growing up. But when it came time to wear the red and white, we had one purpose or cause. I know that I would do whatever I needed to make the save for the team, the greater good.
How can we use a common cause with our kids? I look at this from two perspectives. As a Christian, it is my job to teach my son that God and his cause come first in our house. Serve God by serving others. From a non Christian viewpoint, a father today could look at a volunteer opportunity to show their children that what they are doing serves the greater community. Either way, show them that the right purpose is what carries us through the good times and bad.
When I was a senior in college, I had the wrong time for a game in my planner and ended up being late for a game. I got to the game as the team was about to take the field. The coach made me sit out the first half. I started the second half and played with an intensity that said I would make up my tardiness by playing my butt off.
How can we apply this to our kids? Live it out by being on time for your family events at school, church or volunteer events. Being a role model in timeliness shows your children that you are serious about what you are doing. It sets the tone that being on time is important.
As a goalkeeper it was my job to make sure that our defenders knew what was coming, who was unmarked and how we could set up our offense for a counter attack. This meant watching, listening and then talking. God gave us two ears and one month for a reason.
How can we apply communicating to our home lives? It means we need to listen to our wives and children, understand their needs and desires and then talk. It means we don’t presume we know what they are feeling or saying.
Listening first then talking is a great way to show you have your priorities straight when it comes to communicating. Listening first is not a sign of weakness as a father and husband. It is a sign of strength.
I do know that one of the ways that I made it into the starting line up was through my ability to be coached. Coachability is the willingness to listen, learn, apply and grow in your sport of choice. As a part time coach now, I love working with kids who take my advice and apply it.
Depending upon the age of your kids this can be a challenge. I know in our house, my son tends to be a know it all when it comes to Mom or Dad trying to show him a new way of doing something.
In sports it has gotten to the point where we delegate coaching to others because my son will listen to them and not us. Keep driving home the idea that those who want to be coached in life get a lot further than those who don’t.
In my senior year of high school, we got a new coach in Larry. Larry was a good coach but my shorter size as a goalie hurt my ability to start as much as I did before. I didn’t play as much my senior year. But I did continue to help with the other goalies to make sure that they were the best they could be.
At the year end banquet I was awarded the most coachable player award. Rather than sulking on the bench, I understood my role on the team. I continued to learn and contribute the best I could from the role I was assigned.
How does this translate with your kids? It means that we need to teach our kids that at points in their lives they might not be number one. However, that doesn’t mean we are defined by it.
Every team needs the first player off the bench to come in and contribute. Understanding our roles in all situations can make a bad one into a successful one.
While not every one that I know learned much from their time in sports in high school or college, the principles and skills that we subconsciously learned can have a huge impact on our lives as fathers. It just takes some awareness and application to make them worthwhile at home.
What skills did you learn from sports that can apply to home and/or work? Share with us below.
Photo: Flickr/Jamie Schaap