Keeping focused on the goal

The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team was ranked No. 25 and the first thing that came to mind was my concussion three years ago. Follow along:

I was training for my first marathon after a season of sprint triathlons and 5Ks. I had tossed in two half marathons and was slowly increasing my mileage and endurance. My confidence was incrementally growing also, but at a much slower rate. As the season unfolded, my coach at the time and I decided on running Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, Ontario. I would run it for experience and training. I was extremely pumped. This was a pretty big-time race and I was going to run in it.

That is until I had an unfortunate collision with the ceramic soap dish in my shower. Yes, I concussed myself in the shower by knocking my noggin really hard against the soap dish. I was out of training for a week then had to slowly come back. Turns out I was just fine and recovered nicely, but the down time in February meant to Around the Bay for me in March. I just wouldn’t be ready for the distance, the course or race conditions. I was whole-heartedly bummed. Thankfully my friend Karl put it in some perspective for me: “Around the Bay was never the goal.”

Flash forward to Monday afternoon and the news that the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. It’s the first time in program history that the program cracked the Top 25. Big day, right? Big, big day for the program, for the school, for women’s sports in Western New York.

But while appreciative and grateful and excited, here’s the thing to remember: Cracking the Top 25 national rankings was never the goal. It was an outgrowth of taking care of their other goals. They want to get better every day. They want make big shots. They want to get big defensive stops. They want to win big games. The national ranking is something that happens along the way, when they take care of their other goals. If the team gets too swept up in the exuberance of making the Top 25, they’ll be in danger of forgetting that it’s not their true goal. The goal is seeing just how far they can go this season. How much they can improve. How much they can play for each other. The goal is to get better every day. The rest — the wins, the rankings, the tournament berths, will take of itself.

It’s so easy to get sidetracked with metrics. Sometimes success can get you off track. Sometimes it’s setbacks which obscure your vision.  It’s easy to lose site not just of the big-picture goal, but of the daily goals, the things you do each day to create and shape your experiences. Gratitude, focus and bit of fearlessness. It’s an approach that’s served this particular group of young women well. One worth trying on for size, myself.

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