You must be joking… Youtube videos of the Dr Phil TV show! What’s this blog coming to with references to Dr Phil?
Bear with me, there is a point, and believe it or not its relevant to sport, all sports but perhaps most especially to triathlon.
Please watch or at least skim through the videos to get the context that used as the background for this blog.
Figured out the point of this post? No yet, no worries, here it is…
$1.7 million could not ‘buy’ success!
Sold by their son on the belief that if they only spent enough… just enough that then… then! … he – as if by magic – would achieve his dream of being a rockstar and as a result would obviously repay them in spades turning “their investment” in him, into millions, maybe billions for themselves.
Think about it. How many guitars, drum sets, keyboards, music and singing lessons, rockstar hair cuts, leather jackets and skinny jeans can $1.7million buy? Not enough. There isn’t enough money in the world to ‘buy’ success. Now, his parents call him a jerk… and he revels in their insult because he cannot admit that he sold a lie to the point that he has become a lie, a fake, a poser.
So what’s the connection to sport… simple!
All I need is a $8,000 carbon fiber top of the line bike, aero helmet, plus $2,000 carbon fiber aero rims, plus get kitted out so I look like a pro cyclist or triathlete, shave my legs (again, to look like a pro), tape gels to every part of my bike so that when I’m “crushing it” I can look just like a pro by sucking back a handful of the stuff they call “fuel” and sports nutrition, and if I brag about the expensive training camp I’m going to in early spring to get a jump on training (since I haven’t done any all winter), and then brag about the exotic location I’m gonna race at… then… then… I will look like a pro, so I will be a pro. Yeah. Right…
There is no amount of money that will turn you into: an athlete, an Olympian, a World Champ, nor will money buy you or make you “healthy”.
Money can make you look as if you are healthy, provide you cosmetic health… money can turn you into a knock off Louis Vuitton handbag sold on downtown street corners, but it ain’t gonna turn you into anything of quality, of substance, of value, with meaning, or importance. All of those arise from the inside out, never outside in.
You actually need to train, then train, then train, then train more and more, and then train, let’s see… where was I… oh right, then you need to train, and train, and train, and maybe if you then train some more…
In regards to your health, you need to make it the priority, the sole priority in your life, and every decision needs to be made with the impact on your health as the pivoting point. Get it?
Attention juniors, youth athletes, age groupers…
Stop bugging your parents for a new race suit for the upcoming swim meet, a new bike – road, track, MTB, cycloX – because the season is starting up, or racing flats lighter than the ones you have because it ain’t gonna make an iota of difference in the long term (and actually could hold you back from your potential).
Wanna end up living at home with mommy and daddy and be $1.7million in the hole? Then go right ahead and believe that there is magic in money, that money will somehow just turn you into a winner. If you are done with unicorns, leprechauns and lil’ pots of gold fantasies, then drop the device, get off your butt, get yourself outside and get to work. Do that for a decade and the sponsors, the money, the stardom will come looking for you because few do it the right way, and many many waste a lifetime looking for the short cut, the easy way.
Attention parents of youth athletes…
As a parent myself, I realize and appreciate the parental desire to “give my children what I didn’t have growing up”, “to give them a hand to get ahead in life”… I get it; but… as parents we can go too far, way way way too far in giving to our children. We can actually go so far as our giving stops being help, and starts to become a hindrance. We forget or we fail as parents to connect that some of our unfulfilled childhood wants were what actually developed drive within us, drove us to excel… in academics, in athletics, in music, in arts, generated dreams in us, goals, aspirations, and most of all the courage and guts to go out and make something of ourselves to see our visions become a reality. I would go so far as to say that in our “lack”, our purpose was defined, we created meaning, we developed significance and direction to and in our lives.
Our children definitely need tools and opportunities and experiences, but they do not need it all to be top of the line, latest and greatest. Consider this… as much as we think that giving the best of the best to our kids is a benefit, it can also communicate something else to our children: it can communicate that without the best of the best equipment, that we do not believe that they can succeed. We can actually communicate disbelief in our children’s potential by over-giving… that without our help, our endless help and helicoptering over their lives… that they are helpless, doomed to fail.
There is a balance between giving and withholding… a balance that is critical to raising healthy teenagers into healthy mindful adults who aren’t living feeling entitled, that the world owes them whatever it is they feel they need or want, and owed to them this instant.
Our children have mountain bikes (MTB) in order to compete in MTB and Cyclocross events, but they do not have the best of the best bikes. Why? Because I have asked my children to consider this… if you win a race on your bike which is starting to look a little beaten up, and you see the other kids on “better” bikes, is there any doubt in your mind that you won the race and it wasn’t the bike that won? What if you won the race on the best bike on the market, but those you defeated were not on comparable bikes… did you really win? How do you know? What if the race was “equal” and everyone was on the same bike? Would you still win? Are you certain?
Want to know the fastest way to destroy confidence, self esteem, belief in one’s potential? Place equipment ahead of training teaching that its equipment that matters not training, and then register that athlete to race event after event. Each time that athlete fails to take the podium and ‘win’, there is only one statement the athlete will be repeating to themselves… I had the ‘best’ equipment and I couldn’t win… which can only mean that I failed, I’m a failure. What else is an athlete to think? If training is not emphasized, if equipment is… then there are only 2 parts to the winning equation: me or the equipment… if you have the best, then it cannot be the equipment, it has to be me. KA-BOOM! There goes belief, there goes drive, there goes the pursuit of dreams, and visions, and goals.
Well meaning parents do this over and over and over… top of the line racing suits in swimming, top of the line bikes to their kids who are cycling or doing triathlons, giving and giving and replacing equipment as if its the priority and the process to success in sport.
Well meaning parents do this over and over and over… giving kids the most recently released smartphone, upgrading their smartphone repeatedly. There is no reason to wonder why the generation is entitled… parents have de-incentivized their kids to learn, to study, to become because kids get whatever device they need, and those devices have led to ‘connecting’ over social media taking precedence over learning how to interact, communicate, emote, debate, analyze, synthesize, just plain think. The “there is an app for that” mindset has taken precedence over learning life skills and we wonder why a generation suffers from anxiety, anger, or has given up and completely withdrawn into silence. Because even with the best of the best equipment (i.e. device)… they do not see themselves making progress in life, becoming more in life, which only means one thing… if you are not moving forwards, you are moving backwards in life!
Giving your child constantly the best of the best does not equate to confidence because when you place things ahead of training/learning it teaches that its not training/learning but things that equate to success. Go back to the Dr Phil videos… the parents gave and gave and gave and now they call their child (their adult child a jerk). Why? Because he hasn’t learnt anything in life except to be a parasite, sucking more and more and thinking that more is the solution.
Life has a way of eventually evening out the playing field. Is your “giving to your child” gonna set them up to win when their playing field is leveled, or will your child receive an awakening that they may not be as “good” as they thought they were… that what they believed to be outstanding athletic capacity, skill, and excellence was the illusion that equipment can create? Then what? What happens if they are not children any more but adults when they receive that little dose of reality?
I’ve told my children repeatedly… win on lesser equipment, and when the equipment companies see you winning, you will have your choice of the best of the best equipment. We’ve made training/learning the process, not the acquisition of things. Can you guess how my children ‘feel’ about themselves when they execute effectively the goals they set for themselves (irrespective of whether its on a podium or not)? They feel that they are in control, that success is up to them and more success is only a factor of gaining more skills, technique, capacity… and that comes from outworking/outstudying/outtraining their competition and that is 100% up to them and no one else.