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Better Together: Competitive Drive - The Fuel For Success

The world of Instagram provides us with countless hours of entertainment. I'm always getting these videos of ballers showing their best moves, I'm especially interested in the dunk videos. I've been know to post a few of my own on there. But when I watch these videos, the competitive side of me always gets to wondering about how a game of 1v1 would go. It's that old competitive itch that lives in me and I suspect lives in you too.

To satisfy that competitive itch that constantly needs scratching, I'm always looking for the next great game. As the great Michael Jordan said about Byron Russell in his hall of fame speech, "If I ever catch him in a pair of shorts, I'm coming at him" That's the response to Byron's comment "I think I can guard you, I can shut you down, and I would love to play against you" Now there isn't a true competitor out there who hasn't either thought that or said that to someone they perceive as "good competitors

There's an old expression that says "game recognizes game" You can be anywhere and when you spot someone in a pair of shorts looking athletic, the first thought in your mind is "Can they ball?" followed immediately by the second thought of "I bet I can take them!" You want to see how you measure up. It's the thrill of putting your skills to the test. The thrill of the next good game. Anyone feeling me here? This can be summed up in two words...."competitive drive".

When some people hear the words "competitive drive" they tend to associate it with a negative obsession that can cause people to lose focus on reality and take competition too seriously. It can go there sometime with the best of us, but I'm not talking about that kind of drive, What I am referring to is that drive to become the best version of you that you can be. It's the drive to play at the highest level you can against the best competition that you can find.

It's that drive that will have you in the gym at 5am working on your game, preparing to face that opponent that will push your skills to the limit. It's that drive that when you reach the end of the workout that will make you push yourself to finish strong instead of tapering off. It's that drive that makes you turn up on your opponent in the last two minutes of the game when everyone else is struggling to stay in the game. It's that crazy competitive drive that won't let you pass up an opportunity to prove yourself. Whether you are in the prime of your pursuing your professional dreams or just a competitive athlete looking for the next great challenge, competitive drive is the fuel behind it all.

I'm no different than the next person. We all want to know how good we can be so when you see someone who you perceive to be good at your game, you want to find out what the both of you have. It happens all the time, you are searching through your Instagram feed and you see another baller doing some stuff you know you can do, or would like to be able to do. The truly driven person will find out if they are in your area and will try to set up a workout or a game. That's happened to me before.

Y'all know my slight obsession with dunking. There might be a few videos out there of me putting a few down with some friends. Ok, you got me, I love being able to do this, especially at my age. I saw a guy who I found out lived here in my area doing some pretty cool stuff. Now I have the good sense to know what I can and can't do, but I'm always looking for someone to workout with that will push me to new levels. That's why I hit Adam up on "insta" and we set up a dunk/hoop session.

When I showed up to the gym, Adam had brought his good friend Derek with him. These two guys are athletes at one of our local colleges. Adam plays on the volleyball team, hence the crazy bounce. Derek plays on the basketball team and he got some bounce too. When we weren't dominating in the pick up games, we put down some dunks throughout the night. As the night went on, I found myself thinking these cats share the same competitive drive I do. The three of us decided that this was going to be a very beneficial partnership for all of us. Of course, It didn't take long for the 1v1 challenges to start.

Since it was clear that we were all about pushing the limits of what we can do, I figured that the 100 point game was a great way for us to learn how competitive we can be with each other so I suggested we get it at the next session. I knew they would say yes. They had made a positive impression on me. These guys aren't afraid to get after it. We all agree that there is only one way to approach basketball, working out and life, go all out! So the next session it was going to be on! The 100 run!!!!!!

Before the day we were to play again, Adam got injured so the showdown was going to be between me and Derek. Adam wasn't going to be left out so he showed up to encourage the both of us as we got after it. That hot Sunday afternoon didn't disappoint in the competition department. It was one of the most intense games I've played all year.

Derek and I sat down and talked about that first 100 run. Here’s what he had to say about it:

“I just remember being exhausted and we were only half way done with the game, knowing I need water or at least i thought I did at the time, I'm almost took you up on the offer for "halftime " but I asked do guys usually stop for water and you said 'we normally play through'. Half of my mind was on a cussing rant but after knowing people have pushed through and have finished the game/fight, and overcame the same situation I was going through, I knew I could endure a little more beating and it motivated me to be mentally tougher and not think about being exhausted.”

Not too long after that, Adam and I took it to another level as we played an epic 1v1 game. The score went well past 100 as we fought it out. Adam is one intense competitor. Here’s what he said:

"No matter what it is you got to go all out, Give your 100%. I definitely don't like losing but what I hate more is if I feel I'm not giving it my all. The game is about your opponent and yourself and if you are not giving it everything you have then you are disrespecting you and your opponent”

It doesn't take one long to see the competitive drive that these two have. They understand that you have to be driven to win to push yourself to be your absolute best. When you meet up with other people who have the same mentality, you have a recipe for success on and off the court. If you have been following my blogs for some time, you know that the central theme of "The Sport Mentor" is all about getting better together through "Ironsharpening" which comes from my favorite proverb that says " As iron sharpens iron, so does one man to another" (Proverbs 27:17)

It's the drive to be the best that separates good from great. It’s what drives you to put in the time to perfect the craft. It’s what has you always looking for the next great game. The drive to put in work in practice stems from the desire to compete at your best. That drive pushes you to go all out in practice. The video on the left shows highlights of the finishing drill Derek and I did to end one of our skills sessions. You can hear the "motivational" talk going on during it.

It’s that competitive drive that fuels the intensity of the workout. When I asked him about it, this is what he had to say:

“I think self-talk is very powerful sometimes it's convincing yourself the next shot is going to go in or sometimes I cuss at myself (a little haha) to pick it up and focus. When we warmed up to 200 points, did the chair shooting drills, and even in 1 on 1 I'll talk to myself to focus & push through. I'm competitive as you know and don't want to waste time so everything going to receive all my effort and attention, and if you, the trainer, or another peer is beating me yeah it motivates me to do better”

When you connect with someone who has the same competitive drive as you, it can lead to some great sessions. For the three of us, It’s the deep respect that we have for each other’s work ethics, drive and abilities that made our times together so rewarding. As intense as our games and workouts got, the bigger purpose for us is to push each other to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.

We all want to be better at what we do. Sports is just a way that we can learn the things we need to in order to succeed in life away from athletics. Although both of my friends are collegiate athletes and have worked hard to get where they are, they understand that the more important thing is becoming successful at their chosen career paths (Medicine & Business) They get that if we can push the limits on the court, then we can push the limits in every area of our lives.

That's what SportMentor is all about. Taking what we learn in sports and applying it to life after sports. Over 25 years in the business and I never get tired of seeing people succeeding in life. A move to Minneapolis in late 2019 gave me the opportunity to get back to doing life with a couple of former athletes that I had the honor of walking beside in life.

Jon was a gifted high school basketball player with a love for helping people. He had a work ethic that impressed me. Jon was the first guy that I seriously invested in over 25 years ago. We would spend hours on the court at his family's farm working on the game and also working on becoming better at life. That drive he displayed followed him into college and in life as he pursued things like competing in "IronMan Triathlons" and a career as a Chiropractor.

Adam was a collegiate All-American track athlete at one of the local colleges in the city where I was serving as the sports outreach pastor. He came up to our volunteer booth desiring to find a way to serve others. It didn't take long for our friendship to grow. I could see that he was a driven guy who knew how to get after it. After he graduated, he felt a call to full time ministry and pursued a career in collegiate ministry. He's been investing in college students at the University of Minnesota for the over 8 years, doing for them what I got the honor to do for him.

My move to Minneapolis has been a full circle moment as I have been able to do life together with these two men who are very important to me. Jon is my Chiropractor and Adam and I work for the same missions organization at the University of Minnesota. Seeing them be successful in their professional lives as well as with their families reminds me that when one has the right foundation and work ethic there's nothing you can't accomplish.

These guys used the same competitive drive they had in sports and learned how to apply it to life away from sports. You can do the same! Don't do it alone, it always works best when you do it with others that share that same drive that you have. When y'all connect then you can truly become #BetterTogether!

Stay Forever Strong!!!!



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