“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle
About ten days ago, I did something I’ve never done before–nor ever thought I’d do in my lifetime. With broom in hand, I slipped rubber soles over my shoes and carefully walked out onto the ice, all the while wondering if in my next step I’d fall. Over the next few hours, with a huge group of friends, I learned the basics of the sport of curling.
If you’ve watched any of the Olympics, you may have seen the players with the massive granite stones, the slippery sliding piece under one foot, and the precarious way they have to glide out and cast their stone toward the target at the other end of the ice. Others on the team sweep the ice in front of the stone as it glides toward the target. I’ve heard analogies that curling is like chess on ice, though after trying curling, I know the strategies must come after billions of hours of practice. Curling is hard!
The whole time we played, only a few of us actually had a stone land in the target. But the atmosphere in the arena was fun, filled with whoops and hollers and laughter — and, I think, all of us went home with bruises from losing our balance while pushing the 40 lb granite stone. It was a hilarious comedy of trying, wobbling, and errors.
It’s truth: I love the Olympics and all the sports represented there. I had my own experience with the Olympic Trials when I was 15, and it changed me.
Athletics do that. What I love most is seeing the living representation of Dedication, Perseverance, and Hard Work. There is nothing more difficult than getting up and striving for excellence every single day for years. Excellence is a habit learned through endeavors like athletics at an early age, and continues to grow and apply as we age.
This year, I especially appreciate the curlers. 🙂
Years ago, I held tiny babies in my arms — each one simply adorable, each one a boy. They were a handful, all three of my sons, early walking and running, and full of life and energy. My husband and I knew that one day we’d be very busy, if they happened to want to pursue athletics. This year, we have reached that very busy point, with all three playing basketball for their schools.
It has been one of the most interesting things, seeing our boys each go through the intense training and coaching involved with playing sports at their level, and nothing could thrill me more. For they’re all learning the discipline of hard work, of working with a team, of following their coach, and of playing their very best day in and day out.
We’ve had countless dinnertime conversations over the difficult aspects, of missing shots repeatedly in a tough game and the need to believe in themselves for the next shot, that hopefully will go in. Excellence is a habit learned over time. It is something I can see will apply to their whole lives to come. I feel speechless with gratitude for the opportunities they’re getting to learn now.
“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” -Vince Lombardi
This afternoon, I’ll be cheering on my 7th grade son as his team, led by his stellar coach, competes for the conference championship title. The whole time, as with now, I’ll be remembering with thankfulness the lessons he is learning.
Athletics help us to become, to grow more toward excellence. Through hard work and perseverance and the crucible moments of competition, we learn who we are and become more of the person who we are meant to be.