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Taking Ownership, Taking The Field

There’s a saying that goes, “Practice like you play, because you will play like you practice”. Essentially, this means that if we want to perform strongly in any area (not just on the field), we have to dedicate ourselves to learning and practice. I think sports give us an incredible arena to practice leadership and teambuilding skills that translate directly to our personal and professional lives as friends, partners, employees, and teammates.

College soccer has been my greatest teacher. I would not trade a single moment of my journey – not the grueling fitness tests, not the early morning practice, not even the disappointing setbacks or losses. It is in these challenging moments that I learned values and habits that will surely stay with me in anything I do.

Some of the most impactful lessons I have learned have come out of failure. When we lose a game, make a bad play, or falter in a time of pressure, do we look around for an excuse or do we look within ourselves to make a change?

We will all experience this kind of failure at some point, but this is when athletes make the most significant choices, not only for the game itself but for their futures. The athlete who chooses to blame the turf-field, the refs, the play call, or the angle of the sun, never develops into the athlete who decides to take ownership instead. Those who look at mistakes as outside of their control, will continue to make them. Those who look at mistakes as within their control, will always have the power to learn from them. That realization and self-discipline may hurt, but we can take these moments of discomfort and turn them into real catalysts for growth.

“The pain of change is temporary but the pain of comfort will forever weigh you down.”   

Leaders in sports, and in life, take ownership – they take EXTREME ownership because they recognize when something goes wrong, that they have the power to change things to create new outcomes in the future. Where we lose sight of that power is when we believe that we have to be perfect, that we have to be the warriors who never stumble or fall. In reality, we show strength through our vulnerability. More importantly, when we have the internal locus of control to admit we can be better this allows others around us to feel safe to do the same.

Taking ownership for our actions shouldn’t be a one time consideration. Remember, we play how we practice. One day sports will transition into life and if we believe that failure arises from the coach making the wrong calls, we’re likely to blame others for our missed deadlines at work or poor grades in school. When we think like this, we make ourselves powerless; but when we take responsibility instead, we become powerful agents of change in our own lives.

“Those to whom much is given, much is required.” – John F. Kennedy   

Don’t make an excuse as to why the person next to you has it better, their boss gives them more time, they are naturally strong, or they got lucky. Give yourself the ability to take what you’ve been given and use it to conquer any obstacle that stands in your way. Identify your strengths, own your failures, turn those failures into lessons, and continue to expect greatness from yourself. Eventually, the person who chooses to take ownership will grow into their success story and the person who chooses to blame others will be on the sidelines calling them lucky.

This article was originally published on AthleteNetwork.

*Leadership Lesson*

Keep track of your own personal accountability using the model from Partners in Leadership above:
–  Is your thinking, language, and action Above the Line ® or Below the Line ®?
–  When do you find that you tend play The Blame Game or use The Steps to Accountability ®?
– What helps you to move over The Line?
– How can you help others to move over The Line?

*Meet the Author*

My name is Nick Rooney! I am a senior Business Finance major at Chapman University with a minor in Leadership. Currently I am in the process of getting my master’s degree as well in Leadership Development. I played four years of soccer at Chapman University and was involved in Greek Life as a member of Pi Kappa Alpha as well as being a part of the B+ Organization to help fight childhood cancer. In my free time I enjoy surfing and any outdoor activities!