Anyone who knows me at all will tell you that I have never been the most relaxed or gracious competitor. I am by nature very intense and, I suppose it could be said, a bit too inclined to lose it in competition. I just love to compete and love to win, so I naturally have had to learn how to not take things too far.

One of the things that has helped me through the years is reminding myself that winning is a gift. I find this to be true in any sport, but it is especially true in team sports. If you really see clearly, there are so many things you can’t control when it comes to winning a game. And even more so, a championship.

This year’s NBA Finals hit this point home. As my son, Elijah, said this morning: “Well, the Raptors won the championship, but they didn’t beat the Warriors.” That’s well said. I haven’t heard a single person argue that the Raptors would have won if the Warriors were as healthy as they were. I doubt anyone would argue it. But when it comes to winning a championship, being healthy is typically essential. And being healthy is not something you can control.

Go further down the line to the calls of officials or the actions of teammates. Or who was available in free agency. You can make the list as long as you want. No matter how great the player or coach, there are a ton of things you can’t control. If you believe in God, you believe He is ultimately in charge of those things. You just do the best you can with what you got.

And so it is for almost everything in life and sports development. I look at my own career. The biggest injuries I suffered were at the end of my career. I often tell people that if I blew out a knee at 26, I am not so sure I would have kept playing. I was healthy. I had good coaching. I had good opportunities to play. On and on you can go. And then there were some things that didn’t make sense that didn’t go my way. But even those things ended up teaching me more than I could have asked for. It’s all a gift.

It requires some humility and it never cancels out hard work, but viewing it all as a gift does take the pressure off. It empowers you to just go out and play. Which, oddly enough, empowers you to actually perform at your best. Or to empower others to perform at their best.

Next game, takes notes on all the things outside the control of the players or coaches. It may humble you. Better yet, it may help you enjoy the game more.

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