why i play

I’m just not obsessed with winning championships. It’s not the only reason I play. I play for my individual growth.
— Kevin Durant

I love sports.  I played sports in my youth and have been a fan ever since. Sports provides us with a constant glimpse of what it means to dream and work diligently to achieve these dreams, a steady stream of lessons that apply to everyday life.

And at the heart of sports lies an ATHLETE driven by COMPETITION. Competition runs in our blood, it’s human nature. Competition also comes with a slippery slope. Although vital to progress, it’s equally detrimental when pointed in the wrong direction. When the competition is someone else, something else, or anything out of your control.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest athletes in sports aren’t competing with others; they’re not competing for trophies; they’re not competing with legacies. They’re competing with themselves. We have built a society designed on comparing ourselves to others, but the competition with oneself is where the greatest performances are rooted, and a meaningful life lives.

Although my days of playing sports competitively are long gone, I remain dedicated to setting goals & optimizing my life. Competing with myself. I start each year with a list of goals, each week with a list of projects, and each day with a list of tasks. I’ve even optimized this goal setting process over time in an effort to improve the outcome. I set professional goals, health & fitness goals, relationship goals, financial goals, creative goals….. Heck, I even set a couple of 2018 goals for our dog Chimehuin. For the record, she’s fallen behind on her biggest goal of the year but is still working hard, and that’s what matters most.

I digress.

When I maintain a focus on my goals or the task at hand I find happiness & personal progress. When I fail to set objectives, or focus on others, I find the opposite. That’s not to say I don’t struggle. I do. We all do. Hardship in life is a given. I’ve missed goals to the extent that is downright embarrassing when I look back at the lofty ambitions. Even so, I still believe in a life focused on personal goals. The catalyst being personal goals. We’re all different, and we should all have different personal goals.

As I was pondering my thoughts on sports, competition, and a driven life, I stumbled upon a 95-Year Stanford Study that said it best:

Actively pursuing a goal, even if you never quite achieve it, will make your life more fulfilling, both now... and when you eventually look back on a life well lived.
— Jeff Hayden

An even deeper dive into this study shows that determining what success means to you and actively striving to achieve this success leads to a longer-lived more meaningful life.  In contrast, “happy-go-lucky” people don’t thrive and often live shorter lives.

At the end of the day, there’s only one you and there’s only one life to live. Strive for individual growth. This means pick a target and vigorously chase it. The mark is yours and the competition is you.  

That’s how I’m playing the game of life. And that’s why I play.


This constitutes my first post for the WESTERN WRITERS LEAGUE.  Very special stuff. You can, and should, read other entries on the same topic from my colleagues at the hyperlinks below: