Sport Principle 3: Lift your game by getting around the right people

About the Sport Principle

When you are training, whatever your sport, if you want a laugh, train with a beginner. If you want a workout, train with somebody of a similar standard, but if you really want to improve, find somebody to work with as a training partner who is much better than you. It will hurt, and it’s not an easy option, but you will get better. 

At the moment, I am training with Nathon Burns (elite Ireland judo international and quite possibly the 2021 Tokyo Olympic judo champion – watch out for the name this summer!) Nathon is literally one of the very best in the world and although I find training with him difficult (to say the least), I know it improves my judo no end. If I want a good laugh, I can always train with a white belt, a beginner, if I want a workout and need to look for someone of a similar standard to me, but if I really want to improve, I need to be training with Nathon as much as possible, who makes me look sad by comparison. And this principle remains true whether the sport you are training for is squash, or badminton, or… anything!

We need to deliberately spend time with people who are operating at a much higher level than us if we’re going to improve. 

Application to life

We’ve all done it. We say to ourselves: “My life’s not turning out too badly because at least I’m not struggling as much as….” And we come up with the name of a friend, family member or neighbour who is battling addiction, or who is relationally dysfunctional or who mismanages their finances etc. But we’re comparing ourselves with the wrong people.

Think about who in your world would make a good role model to strive to be like. It may be their internal character that appeals to you as much as any external abilities. Good. Perhaps there is a particular church leader who inspires you? Good. There is nothing wrong with having role models, as long as they are the right ones. If you can find the courage to tell that person they are a role model to you, that will encourage them, but they don’t need to know in order for you to continue to draw inspiration.

In life, we become like whomever we spend time with. Many people have mentors for their lives who don’t even know they exist. They may live overseas in a totally different part of the world, but they have authored a book or a blog, or a series of them, or they have appeared on TV in the name of a particularly worthy cause, or perhaps they are your sporting hero/heroine. They may never know you or even meet you, but that doesn’t matter.

Who are your heroes/role models, and what is it about them that you want to emulate in your life? The most important thing to recognise in these people is their faith in God that drives them. So, you need to find some men of faith to inspire you. Are you sure you have the right heroes / role models? Do you need to make any adjustments in who you are looking to for inspiration? (In particular, think about character traits – what are these people like on the inside)? How are these people (whether they know it or not) going to help you lift your game to the next level in life?

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1
Deliberately get around people who cause you to lift your game in life.

Image Credit: Esteban Lopez