It wasn’t until I became a student-athlete in college that I realized how important it was.
As a youngster, perhaps in middle school or early high school, I asked my father what he wished he had known sooner that would have served him later in life. “I wish I would’ve learned some of the material I was studying rather than just studying to be given an “A” on a test or to pass a class,” he said after a few moments. This confused me at first. I just figured you should learn it as long as you’re studying.
Over time, I realized what he meant.
The difference was how well you retained and applied your knowledge.
Coming to this understanding changed my life in two ways:
1. I needed to spend more time and put more focus on truly learning.
2. It was essential for me to swallow my pride, be open to criticism, and ask more questions.
Like my dad, I was also guilty of the same thing. The only thing on my mind was getting the “A” (or the result). I wasn’t thinking about how much I would actually learn. When I look back on it, I wish I had actually focused on learning certain topics. The past, however, cannot be changed, so, now it is more about how I can use this information to improve the present and, ultimately, the future. I began to apply this lesson learned not only at school, but also in soccer. In high school, I thought I knew it all. I scored a lot of goals and was the MVP of my team. I would ignore something a coach said if I did not agree with it. I was not open to constructive criticism. When I began to play with better players, I became less dominant, but couldn’t figure out why.
Now I know. I didn’t listen to some of the great advice and constructive criticism that was being offered to me. I had too much pride to let anyone give me advice, and I paid the price for that. It became clear to me that I had to change my ways to reach my goals.
Do you know what I did? First, I observed, then I asked questions, then I applied the constructive criticism I received. It helped me raise my game. I applied the same approach to my coaches and mentors. Initially, it was always hard, but anything worthwhile will be. Once you get the hang of it, it will be as easy as any other task you’ve ever mastered. It’s such a rewarding experience.
The importance of learning and applying yourself can’t be overstated. Focus less on getting an “A” or scoring a goal. I challenge you to really apply yourself. Master your class or dominate your position. You won’t regret it. But don’t stop there! This process will eventually become a habit you can apply to every part of your life. It will be tough at first, but as with most things, with repetition and consistency it will become easier and easier.
I believe in YOU!
“Optimize your mind for your Grind!”
Charlotte FC #13