In Part I we discussed the advantages of using an “it is what it is” type of thought process with aspects of which an athlete truly has no control. We also laid the groundwork for why that same thought process can be a deterrent to an athlete’s ability to overcome obstacles when overused or used in the wrong situations. And the examples given in the first paragraph of Part I of this two-part piece (becoming a starter, moving up in the batting order, becoming an all-star, all-conference, and/or all-state) are a perfect fit to further this discussion.
On the surface is the fact that someone outside of the athlete makes the decision to offer the above-mentioned opportunities. The athlete does not, directly, get to choose whether they become a starter on their team, move up in the batting order, or become all-conference, as is also true with a host of other examples. The actual decision is out of their control.
However, what the athlete does have power or control over is the efforts he or she puts in in order to increase the odds of the aforementioned happening for them. And that is where many make the mistake of using the incorrect thought process of “it is what it is” as it brings nothing to the table for them other than acceptance. Not only is the timing off, but it also diminishes motivation to put forth the effort needed to change one’s circumstance, especially for the future.
A different approach, one exemplified by the phrase “it is what you make it,” is what’s necessary if an athlete intends to overcome obstacles in their path. This statement personifies the whole concept of taking personal responsibility and ownership over one’s athletic success, leaving no doubt as to who must take action.
And it is this type of attitude, an “it is what you make it” type of assertiveness, which allows one to push the edge of the envelope as that, for them, becomes the norm. A standard that increases the chances the impossible can become possible and where goals turn from mere hopes into reality.
Let’s say, for example, an athlete wants to achieve something that many (the “experts”) believe to be “unrealistic.” You know, “it’s never going to happen” kind of goal based on any type of logical thought process. Yet, for the sake of argument, let’s assume the athlete takes to heart this discussion and chooses to travel this path of impossibility anyway.
And through this process of trying to accomplish this “unrealistic” goal they find that their normal allotted training time, their practice, is not enough to accomplish what they need to on a daily basis. The kind of daily improvement that would, in the athlete’s mind, give them the best chance of achieving what it is they have set out to do, the “impossible.”
Now the athlete is faced with a choice. On the one hand, they can simply accept their situation for what it is and do the best they can, an “is what it is” type of mindset, or…they can choose to go down the much less traveled path. The one where they find and/or create other means to finish whatever training they deem necessary to accomplish their goals for that day.
Whether it takes, going to the YMCA (or YWCA), a private gym, health club, or to the neighborhood playground, they simply do not accept their circumstance, always finding ways to accomplish their daily objectives, consistently, regardless of regular practice time available. In a nutshell, they adopt the philosophical mindset “it is what you make it.”
Another example might include an athlete trying out for a team and making a lesser team than the one they had anticipated. Oh sure, they could easily just accept their situation as is (it is what it is), work hard, have fun, and move on, or…they can use it as a motivator for continued, persistent efforts toward improvement, adopting that “it is what you make it” thought process, moving them forward to the place where they want to be.
More times than not, with the proper work ethic, sacrifice, commitment, discipline, inner will, etc., the very determined get what it is they want. And in the end, whether they reach their goal or not, it will be the willingness to go through a process most are unwilling to travel that brings maximum value to them. Simply put, the tools gained through this experience go way beyond the athletic arena as one learns the secret to true and real success.