Be Proud of Your Effort
Effort is something to be proud of. Unfortunately, there are many athletes who are sometimes ashamed of giving effort. This stems from a fixed mindset, which is a belief that athletic skill is something you’re either born or not born with, and cannot be improved with practice. When an athlete has a fixed mindset, they think naturally talented athletes should be effortlessly good. Therefore, they shy away from giving good effort, because they think giving effort proves that they’re not naturally talented. They are especially scared of being “exposed” as a bad athlete because they believe there is no way to get better.
Athletes with a growth mindset, on the other hand, are not ashamed of giving effort. They embrace effort for two reasons. First, because they know the only way to get better is by giving effort. And second, because they know that their effort is a better reflection of character than their results are. This is why growth-minded athletes are proud of their effort whether they win or lose.
My pet peeve in sports is when athletes tank a competition and then tell other people, “I didn’t even try.” They want you to believe that they only lost because they didn’t try, and that they would have won if they actually cared and tried their best. They think that this makes them look better. But in reality, it makes them look worse. It makes them seem weak and insecure. It doesn’t matter that they “didn’t try.” They still lost the game. Also, failing to give effort is never something to be proud of. Effort is a sign of strong character. By failing to give effort, you are showing that you are lazy, which is not something to be proud of. Furthermore, It is disrespectful to both you and your opponent. Both you and your opponent deserve your best effort, to help each other improve. It is also disrespectful to all the people who support you, including your coaches, family, and fans.
One of the biggest fears athletes with a fixed mindset have is getting blown out by an opponent despite giving their best effort. When they give their best effort and still get blown out, they have no excuse that protects their egos. They are forced to admit that their opponent is superior. This scares them, because they hate feeling inferior. It puts a big dent in their self-esteem and sense of identity, which are highly connected to sports.
With a better attitude, these athletes will realize that there’s no reason to be ashamed of giving your best effort, even if you get blown out. When you give your best effort, you can be satisfied knowing there is nothing more you could have done. You can be proud that you used all of your mental strength, which shows you have strong character, because it is something that you personally control! You can’t control the fact that your opponent has more natural talent than you, so there’s no reason to be upset about it. You have to accept the fact that some people are simply blessed with more natural talent than you and the fact that you can’t always be the best.
It still sucks to lose, but you can happy about the humility you’ve gained from your loss. You can think to yourself, “Wow, my opponent was great. It was an honor to share the field with them. I aspire to reach their greatness one day. But in order to do that, I need to be humble and start working a lot harder.”
Lastly, you can remind yourself that your athletic success or failure has no real bearing on your true self-worth. This quote from Saint Francis of Assisi can give you perspective and help you not take losing too personal.
“Remember, you are what you are in the eyes of God, and nothing else.”
With a better attitude about effort, you can be freed from the fear of embarrassing yourself in games. This will keep you from looking for excuses when you’re losing, which will help you give your best effort no matter what. Overall, a better attitude about effort will help you embrace challenges, perform better, and train harder. You still might get blown out by your opponent, but you’ll do better than you would have with your old attitude. And even if you get blown out, you’ll still be proud of your effort, and you’ll be humble and determined to improve yourself after the game. With more bravery, humility, and determination to improve, you’ll actually start beating some of the opponents that you used to make excuses against. This all starts with changing your attitude about effort.