As Brene Brown says, ” We are hardwired for struggle.” Yet it’s tempting to try to manage our way around it or pull back rather than embrace it, even though we know it’s the struggle and challenge that provide the stimulus for our becoming better athletes and better people.
In his book Listening Point, Sigurd Olson has a short chapter on The Paddle. He writes, ” The paddle is made of native ash from a tree that grew in a cold swamp and gathered its toughness from bitter springs and cold falls when even staying alive had been an effort… into the new paddle went those qualities of texture and spirit that develop only under stress.”
Those qualities of texture and spirit grow in us through our efforts to respond to the difficult days of training, the match with a tough opponent, the recovery from an injury. When we rise to meet the challenge, like that ash tree rising from the cold swamp, reaching for the light, we too gather that toughness and resilience.
It takes patience though. The new growth rarely happens overnight whether it’s physical strength or changing an attitude. As Olson writes about his paddle, ” It’s fineness of grain came from slowness of growth, some so fine it could barely be seen with the naked eye, evidence in those sections that life had been difficult.”
So what’s the challenge you’re facing? Improving a skill; developing a physical quality; changing an attitude or a belief? Maybe it’s not even on the field. Maybe its a difficult conversation you need to have with a teammate or coach or player.
Whatever it is, embrace the struggle. Match your efforts with time to rest. That’s part of the process too. But, embrace the struggle. It’s where the transformation begins.
And, part of what you may discover is, that transformation allows you to bring even more to the people, and causes you care about.