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Commentary Jan 06, 2015

LeBolt: The real secret to success … quitting?

WendyLeBolt-HeaderI have discovered a little-known secret to every success. My recent interviews with successful athletes, coaches, and business leaders are all pointing toward one thing. The secret to succeeding is … quitting.

Nearly everyone tells me that somewhere along the way to their successes, they gave them up.

Athletes tell me they took time off to play another sport, or to focus on academics or they got hurt and couldn’t play. Coaches tell me they went back to teaching, or home to spend time with the kids or needed to get away from the parents complaining. Entrepreneurs are constantly forming companies and dissolving them, sparking initiatives and nixing them, investing and then selling.

+READ: LeBolt: How setting the wrong goals leads to failure

We like to celebrate the new opportunity and the different approach, but the key is the sudden stop. The truly fresh start only comes when you let go of everything! There’s something magical, not just about the aerial view of the clean slate — but in the hover above it. It’s the moment we say, “nope, not doing that anymore; now, I’m doing this!”

But who stops anymore? We just keep right on barrelling through the seasons, or from one activity to the next. Even if we are completely exhausted, hate what we’re doing, or it’s grown as pungent as those rank socks in the laundry hamper, we keep going because… Why? Because we HAVE to!

Otherwise our nearest competitor is going to catch us. We have to show diligence. Those colleges are looking for kids who stick to things, show commitment and perseverance. Couldn’t let the kid quit now.

Or could we? What if the secret to success was quitting? Yes, laying the game aside with no intention whatsoever of coming back to it. Poof. Out of our system. And then, while we were busy doing other stuff, what if it started prodding us? Hey — you miss me, don’t you. And maybe you’d start juggling the volleyball with your laces, just to remember how it feels.

Maybe you’d trap that basketball cold right on the end line, just because you can. Maybe you’d email those kids just to see how the new coach was working out. Or maybe, a terrific new approach would smack you right between the eyes.

+READ: Soccer Wire’s Top Storylines of 2014

Perseverance, determination and grit aren’t enough. It takes the sudden and complete stop. Giving our players and ourselves permission to quit doesn’t make us quitters. It gives us that aerial view where there’s some fresh air and freedom to flap our wings. Survey says: it works! Kids find renewed passion. Coaches remember why they started coaching. All of us see a bit more clearly.

youth sport injuryCaution: this takes courage. Because your kid may discover he’s a whole lot happier and healthier NOT playing Div. I soccer. Or he may be delighted to pursue something else entirely. Can you give up youth soccer if your kid wants (or needs) to?

If you’re wondering whether your athlete is suffering from sports burnout, here are some things to look for:

  • Fatigue, reluctance to train, body is tired and heavy
  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Frequent minor injuries or injuries which are slow to heal or recur
  • Pattern of skipping practices or games
  • Sleeplessness, trouble falling asleep, waking during the night
  • Increased resting heart rate (take before getting out of bed, for several consecutive days)
  • Decrease in appetite, weight loss, irregular menstruation in females
  • More frequent colds, upper respiratory infections
  • Boredom, lack of motivation, decline in academic performance
  • Decrease in self-esteem and/or unhappiness that pervades other activities
  • Cynicism, negative outlook, moodiness, inappropriate response to usual stresses

+Find the Fit2Finish handout 8 Ways to Prevent Overtraining Injuries here.

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