“The Quality of Effort,” as it applies to sports and to the rest of our lives beyond the “arena,” ultimately comes down to living an aware life in love. Yikes, some readers might say. What’s love got to do with it?
Three perspectives on love, among others, have informed me over the years:
- Love is a wholehearted ‘yes’ to belonging. – Br. David Steindl-Rast
- Love is the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. – M. Scott Peck
- Love is the absence of fear. – A Course in Miracles
Briefly, imagine moving through your day each day with a wholehearted ‘yes’ to belonging, first to and with yourself–fully and unconditionally loving yourself with kindness and compassion amid all your beauty, blemishes, dreams, desires, regrets and judgments–all of you. Then imagine that same wholehearted yes to belonging to and with your family, your friends, your colleagues at work, your student-athletes, your opponents, strangers on the street…and take that as far as you can. Where do you draw the line for belonging?
Next, imagine your level of willingness to extend yourself–to go beyond what feels comfortable, in order to better understand who you are in the world, and your willingness to do that for others as well. For whom are you willing to feel some discomfort in order to help them see and live more clearly? Family? Friends? Colleagues…Strangers?
And imagine what it might feel like to engage yourself and the world at large without fear, or at least without the influence of fear on what you choose and how you behave. That includes everything from your life’s trajectory, to the outcome of the game, the at-bat, the free-throw. Imagine yourself living moment to moment without fear. Imagine your student-athletes competing without fear.
Any one of these, and all of them together comprise the quality of effort. Easy to understand, perhaps, and quite challenging to live. But why shoot for less?
That’s what love’s got to do with it, as far as I can tell.
Foundation for Inner Peace. A Course in Miracles. 2nd ed. Glen Ellen CA: FIP, 1976.
Peck, M. Scott, M.D. The Road Less Traveled. New York: Touchstone-Simon & Schuster, 1978.
Steindl-Rast, Brother David. Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness. New York/Ramsey: Paulist, 1984.