Communicating Concepts

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Long Term Success

What Constitutes Success?
        A clear vision of what constitute success for any endeavor involves answering distinct questions:
  • What do I exactly want to achieve?
  • How will I determine I have accomplished my goal?
       Success requires focusing efforts on developing a clear, concise, and realistic path to achieve the goals that have been set down in writing. A timeline should have various subordinate goals listed to measure progress in accomplishing the ultimate established goal. 

       Any good planning effort requires examination of different options that are available. Some will actually lead to different destinations. Sometime
complimentary destinations may be equally desirable and some may be more easily achieved than other.  In a perfect world illnesses, accidents, and other misfortunes may occur that can't be reversed no matter how hard we try.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If
you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”  Albert Schweitzer


       As with any path to arrive at a specific
destination, there may be different routes that can be taken. Sometime a route may involve detours that delay progress. Other routes turn out to be dead ends that require back tracking and taking a different path.

       Another scenario is to revise the concept of success in different terms. This is sometimes referred to as "Turning lemons into lemon aid".

       More often than you might think, individuals achieve their goal, but the expected success does not make them happy. Sometimes they look back with regret the things that they were forced to sacrifice inorder to acquire their success.

Success should be measured as doing something selflessly for others.
A career of doing what you love to do as a profession, the love of your
family, and helping making life better for someone else should be viewed
as being successful.


What Defines Success?
    
People define success based on a wide variety of expectations. For example, a family that places an emphasis on acquiring an education, in preparation for a career, would likely place athletic achievements at a lower priority than qualifying for an academic scholarship. The family's financial circumstances can influence how they define their priorities for their children's education.

     The student athletes who needs financial assistance to attend college may view their athletic prowess as a means be being recruited to attend a college through a sports scholarship. Not all sports receive the same number and as high an amount as football, especially in a top tier Division 1 NCAA program.

     It is important to note that the desire to compete is just as strong in Division 2 and 3 NCAA programs and in those sports not governed by the NCAA. The individuals representing a school or the USA world and Olympic eligible sports play because they deeply love the sport. They play for pride, not for the prospects of lucrative professional contracts.

     Even the NCAA indicates that in over 4,000 student athletes, a very few will continue to participate in a sport professionally after college. Of those who desire to become a professional athlete in a major sport, such as football, basketball, and baseball, some may leave early to pursue their professional sport, fail to graduate because of low grades and/or transgressions on and off the athlete field. Far too many student athletes graduate with only minimal grades and credits; however, there are also exceptional athletes who play a prominent role in their sport and are on the Dean's list.  

Note: School sports programs, under Title IX, must fund male and female
sports equally. This has resulted in some minor sports for male athletes
being unfunded. Athletes in sports that are not under the umbrella of the
NCAA have national organizations that conduct competitions for selections
to pick the members for world and Olympic eligible teams representing the
USA. Each sport is governed by an international sport organization that
establishes rules concerning who is an eligible athlete and what disqualifies
them from competing.


     The prospects for success in minor sports varies depending on the sport and if the sport is a recognized by summer and winter Olympic events. Drug testing is universally required of all athletes who place in such events. Such testing occurs immediately after the completion of an event.

Predicting Success
     It is difficult to predict success of an individual or team in a single sport's season. It increasingly becomes more difficult as we attempt to extend the span for more than a year out.

     Accidents are a part of participating in unorganized and organized sports activities, including practices and actual competitions. Sometimes associated injuries occur that range from minor aches, pains, and body bruising requires backing off from practicing for a few days to recover with others potentially can cause season and career ending injuries.

     "Grit" is the quality found to be the most reliable in predicting future success!  Grit is described as the  ability to not let short-term barriers interfere with long-term goals. As you may be thinking, early talent identification undermines the very quality that produces top performers.

Backbone, chutzpah, fortitude, guts, fortitude, tenacity, determination,
and perseverance are words that describe what separates brilliant slackers
from the simply talented who excel through a passionate yet steady approach.
 
  
                            Source - Angela Duckworth on Grit.
   

     Duckworth’s research credits how we handle setbacks and failure as a predictor of how successful a person may become. Some individuals will in extreme cases become so discouraged that they quit while others view the problems as merely blips to overcome in the way to reaching their goal!

     Success requires inspiration and execution, combined with trial, error, and failures on the way to achieving success. Such an individual possesses an overall ability to combine creativity with a way to bring to market products that create and fill a market demand.

     It is hard to measure a person's potential for becoming a innovator such as the inventor of the Apple computer. However, its just as important for a blue sky thinker like Steve Jobs, to have the abilities of a creative problem solving innovator and who can face adversity as they continue to develop countless ways to reinvent the Apple business model.

     Apple Computers was cofounder by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Together they made a natural team inventing the first ready to purchase and use personal computer and off the shelf software.

Note: Steve Wozniak was the main designer on the Apple I and Apple II computers
together with the business vision of Steve Jobs.  Ultimately their success depending
on surrounding themselves with others who were inspired by and shared their vision
for the personal computer for the non computer programer.


     As a positive non-cognitive trait, grit involves perseverance to accomplish a long term goal no matter what obstacles or challenges might interfere with or impede an individual's path to success. Grit has proven to be a better predictor for success than IQ or conscientiousness. - source PsychCentral

     Take the Grit Survey developed by Angela L. Duckworth, of the Seligman Research Alliance and accessible on the Authentic Happiness web site. (There is no charge to register and take the Test)
    
The Impact of Grit in Sports

Development Models
     Many athletic development models favors early specialization without consideration of psychological and physical readiness to develop the general coordination combined with the physical, emotional, and mental qualities for long term participation and competition. Exclusive commitment is demanded by most team coaches, rather than encouraging a love and passion for the sport in young athletes! 

Note: Some sport programs are part of the public school and college budgets. However, increasingly there are efforts, to charge fees for the athletes to participate, to balance
revenues and expenses.  Most schools have established "Booster" organization/foundations
to raise funds for school activities that are experiencing reduced financial support or are
in risk of being canceled.

Private sports programs are entirely funded by parents which can be a considerable
expense that strains a family's financial resources. In extreme cases the financial
pressure is transferred to the child which adds to their stress of practicing and competing.

Early Specialization of Young Athletes
     Smart practicing has largely been replaced by extending the length and number of work outs with the goal of strengthening and conditioning the athletes. These longer and more frequent workouts can result in burnout and “overuse” injuries that are increasingly being observed in young athletes. Such activities can have serious long term, accumulated effects displayed in brain and joint damage that cause permanent disabilities.

     The emphasis on early talent identification results in parents and coaches pressuring for athletes into early specialization. The stated goal of parents want their child to specialize in whatever sport they're best at is laudable. Unfortunately, parents may attempt to live through the potential athletic success of their child, even while using bribes or coercive tactics to ensure compliance by their child. It is very important to understand that early athletic success has little or no correlation to later athletic success.

     Young athletes should experience as much or as little involvement in physical team sports. Some will prefer sports in which they can participate in individual events. Competitions may be against other athletes, but there is no direct confrontation. Modern dance, tap, break dancing, ballet, and ballroom dance require a tremendous amount of physical skills and coordination and deserve as much respect for fitness development and competitiveness as any Olympic "sport".

     There are examples of some athletes demonstrating an early desire to participate in a sport and continuing to sustain this desire even into college; however, this not the norm, but is the exception. In the cases where early identification seems to work, the reason behind the success is because these athletes are enrolled in programs with the ideal environment of quality practices and better coaching, not because of some inherent talent of the individual.

      An excellent example of an individual's display of grit is in the arena of disabled sports and Paraolympic Games.

      Athletes include a wide range of sports – archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, 5-a-side and 7-a-side football , goalball, judo, power lifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, volleyball (sitting), wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

      Six different disability groups are defined by the degree of function determined by the disability:

  • Amputation,
  • Cerebral Palsy,
  • Visual Impairment,
  • Spinal Cord Injuries,
  • Intellectual disability,
  • Others which do not fit into these above groups.

      Training programs, associated with conventional competitive sports, require some serious determination or grit to endure the entire planned schedule to strength the whole body, even as part of general fitness training program.  Remember - no pain, no gain!

      Some athletes have always sought to gain an advantage using an easier way, such as illegal drugs, blood doping, and genetic engineering to obtain an edge over their competitors.

Blood Doping in Sports | Enhancing Performance | Athletes ...  On the last day of the 2002 Winter Olympics, 3 cross-country skiers were booted out of the Games for blood doping.

Q&A on Blood Doping - World Anti-Doping Agency  Blood doping is the misuse of certain techniques and/or substances to increase one's red blood cell mass, which allows the body to transport more oxygen.

Blood doping - The Why Files The gory process of "blood doping" has been replaced by genetic engineering. Athletes simply inject EPO, which causes the body to make the cells

Suggested Reading:

  • PDF Grit: Perseverance and Passion   Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals. Angela L. Duckworth. University of Pennsylvania. Christopher Peterson. University of Michigan.
References:

Relationships:

Skater. Parent, and Coaching Issues

Skill Development Environment:

Mental Training:
          
    

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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