Jim Thorpe was probably the first famous athlete to discuss the power of positive visualization in athletics. One of his most remarkable accomplishments was in winning a major event for which he had had no physical practice. Most of his competitors had put in an entire season of preparation for the event by practicing their performance several times each day. He was asked how he could possibly have performed at such a remarkable level without that practice. Thorpe responded, "I just closed my eyes and imagined the event. I could see myself doing it."
Today, almost no Olympic-caliber athlete would think of participating in an event if they had not used active visualization beforehand. Watch the bobsled drivers or lugers right before they race. They stand at the top of the hill, eyes closed, twisting and turning their bodies as they visualize the trip they are about to make, and the turns they will have to negotiate, in order. Not one of them would doubt that the trip in their mind is a necessary and vital part of the proper preparation for their ultimate accomplishment.
Preparation comes in many forms. Martha was upset because she had worked hard around the house to make it comfortable for Jesus and his disciples. Mary had meanwhile sat and listened to Jesus' words carefully. Martha wished to be recognized for her service, and felt that Mary had shirked her duties when, in fact, it was Mary who had chosen the best way to prepare, because she had the ultimate goal in mind.
We might ask ourselves, "What are we preparing for?" Our insight into the best answer to this question may make all the difference in the world when it comes time to plan our preparation. One of my favorite sayings comes from a sign I saw somewhere that reads, "Prepare to play like a champion." It strikes at the very heart of this quandry. We cannot truly prepare to win a championship, because that is both an impossibly diverse goal, and one that is limited in many ways. We can, however, develop a philosophy about how champions behave and perform. If we prepare our teams to behave and perform accordingly, we should be satisfied with what we have done, regardless of whether we have taken the actual championship.
Questions for Reflection:
~ Do I know exactly what it is for which we are preparing?
~~ Have I fairly considered "alternative" methods that might augment my more traditional preparation?
~~~Am I sure that the preparation we are using is actually moving us toward our ultimate goal?
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