Coaching Spirit

Here’s one that’s likely to hit you in the feels.

While the media can be really focused on money and status and achievement, in the end we all know that what really makes something impressive is their capacity for empathy, connection, forgiveness and love. People pulling together is always more meaningful than a solitary achievement. The story about the sacrifices of parenting are generally more poignant than any tale of personal victory.

Despite what we claim to value, a great deal of young children are taught to approach sports more like career training, when its most valuable contribution to each player and to society is that it teaches teamwork. It clearly demonstrates the value of chaining human capacity together to accomplish something bigger than any individual could achieve. In this way it is a beautiful metaphor for living.

The truth is, we don’t want enlightenment as much as we think we do. It’s pretty boring. It’s hard to feel something when we feel everything. And then we can’t even share an experience because we are both the experience and the experiencer. In Oneness we are ourselves and everyone else. In Oneness there’s no one to hang out with. Hence the strange dilemma of life.

Imagine the universe using its infinite power to create duality, and opposition, and drama and –bingo! Suddenly we’re all invested and interested in this drama called life. In a strange way, we chose the dramas we experience in life. Nowhere is our use of this opportunity exemplified more than in most sports.

Every sports fan begins each season with the odds stacked against them. Maybe 30+ teams are vying for one championship. 97% of us are essentially signing up for the agony of defeat.

With pro sports we volunteer to participate in a giant public drama where our agony may end up on full public display –we’ll even have uniforms. And every year we take that risk again and again just for that slim chance that maybe our team will do it this year. It’s a beautiful example of people ignoring odds in order to create happiness –for at least a while.

Despite being disappointed for 50 straight years, Toronto hockey fans still line up to buy tickets and every year they are filled with equal excitement. What else would enlightenment look like other than a group of people being thrilled to participate in something they can almost be guaranteed will end in an agonizing drama?

Every league in the world is filled with people happy to sign up for likely failure. So if we can do that with a sport, why’s it so hard with our life?

The truth is, we just want a little bit of enlightenment. Just enough to take the pain away–we think. But then someone explains that to get rid of the pain we must accept the pain. We must become one with our pain. At that point it’s not an obstacle, it’s an experience and we can survive those, easy. It’s what every losing sports fan has to do every time they lose.

As Sam Houston State coach Matt Deggs so nicely puts it, rather than full enlightenment, we want the drama. Because in the heat of that, what we really enjoy is the joy of coming together. We naturally enjoy connection and communion more than the tearing apart and division, and this is how even a losing team can generate a winning experience. Because we can’t really enact enlightenment alone. It needs us to work together.

Sports fields, workplaces, and within our own families, this sort of deep connection and appreciation can exist in all kinds of places. All it needs is a few open people who are prepared to open up, be vulnerable, and love regardless of the setting or the outcome.

The question now is, are we one of those people? And if so, where will we share love today?

peace. s

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