When I was in high school I spent two years on the swim team and one year on the softball team.  I was a good softball player and a lousy swimmer.  But, I enjoyed them both and learned a lot from the experience.  Here are a few lessons I took away from my days as an athlete:

1. Don’t limit your activities to only the things you’re good (or great) at.  I was a good softball player, but I only played my freshman year.  I wanted to take part in the school musicals in the spring and that conflicted with the softball schedule.  However, I greatly enjoyed that one year playing softball and have played recreationally in the summers ever since.  By pursuing everything I was interested in in high school rather than just the things I was good at, I learned a much greater variety of skills and broadened my interests and abilities.  My time spent in musical theatre enhanced my musicianship which is also something I’ve pursued amateurly (but hopefully not amateurishly) ever since.

2. Only I can measure my success or failure.  When I was on the swim team, it’s no exaggeration to say that I was the worst one on the team.  I was not good, I was not fast, I was not successful in any conventional sense.  But I learned how to swim really well.  And I learned how to work hard for intrinsic motivation.  In my second year on the team, I earned my varsity letter (it was a point system), just barely, by the skin of my teeth.  And to date I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments because I worked really, really hard for it and I kept at it and I didn’t give up.  (And I still swim for fun and exercise as well.)

3. When I’m really busy I’m much more productive.  I don’t really know the why of this one, but on the days when I spent 2 1/2 hours in the pool every afternoon I never turned assignments in late, I studied for tests in a timely fashion, and I generally got more done.  My theory, and feel free to chime in with further wisdom in the comments, is that not having as much dispensable time killed my tendency to procrastinate at every turn.  When I am busy, I order my time more efficiently, I do what needs to be done and I move on to the next thing.  (On the other hand, there was no internet back then…)  I have noticed over the years that it helps if at least some of the things that are keeping me busy are things that I choose, that I like, that feed my goals and purposes.

 This is my entry in MZM’s what I learned from the world of sports group writing project.