2020 has been an absolute disaster in every aspect imaginable so far. So how can one deal with all the madness and paranoia that seem to have taken the driver’s seat today?
Let’s go back to ancient Rome.
Back in around 165AD, the great Roman Empire was struck by a terrible plague. Millions infected and it is believed that around 15 million people died. Emperor at the time was Marcus Aurelius, an emperor which will eventually go down in history as one of the most successful emperors of all time. He had to fight the problem of the plague through his whole reign, among all the other challenges the empire was always facing. That is not a small thing to face and even so, to face it with success.
What was the catch? You see Marcus was first of all a philosopher, then a politician in any sense. What is more important, Marcus was a Stoic. Stoicism is a philosophy which emphasizes a lot on how one is to live a life with virtue and how to deal with problems emerging, and in the process not losing focus of the duty one has. That is a very general description.
Anyway, what has this got to do with sports?
An athlete’s mindset is the closest thing to a stoic mindset we can relate to.
There is no doubt that we are living in very special times. These are times one can easily lose focus, priorities, routines and ultimately for some, a will to live. Because where are you left when everything around you seems to just fall apart?
This is just an obstacle in the path. An athlete can meet skilled opponents, bad days, physical pain, but those are not factors strong enough to make them stop trying to excel. Every obstacle is just an opportunity to see how further I can go. It is not there to make us quit. Quitting means giving up to external conditions. It is important to know what we are doing and why, otherwise every little obstacle will seem much more terrifying than it really is and that is dangerous.
An athlete knows how to do things. Everything is trial and error, a never ending scientific approach. What works and what not and then implementing the most useful process. Maybe now we see that something of the old way isn’t working anymore. The option then is to find out other solutions and implement the best one for the circumstances.
There is only the goal in front of us, the surrounding conditions always change but do not affect the goal itself. The goal is there and we strive to achieve it. Of course things can go not as planned(as we see today) but then, the clarity of the goal will give us the power to keep moving.
It is important in every situation to keep in mind the power of the team. What one has the power to do, in a team that power will be amplified. Everyone has a role to play and all the roles together make the team.
The thing that makes all the difference though is responsibility. When one takes full responsibility of life, that right there changes everything. Responsibility in what one does, in what one is and how one goes through all the situations in life.
Athletes know that they are the ones responsible for everything that happens during play. It is all in one’s hands. Stoics said to not worry about the things you cannot control. This whole situation has many aspects which we cannot control, but even more which we can control. Do what you can and that is enough. Everything you can’t do will be taken care of by someone or something else. Do not freeze about the things you cannot control, instead focus on what you can. You cannot control the referee, but you can play in a way you don’t need him.
What we have seen all around us these past months is Chaos in it’s purest form. The unknown jumping out of the shadows and straight in our lives.
We couldn’t have controlled it’s appearance, but we can control the way we deal with it, our reaction.
Our reaction must be powerful and decisive.