It can takes years to build respect and seconds to take have it taken away. It's not only about your actions but
about selecting wise words that people truly believe in, especially in times of concerns, challenges and setbacks.
I’ve been playing rugby for most of my life –- 21 years to be exact. The sports has played such a huge part in shaping me and my character.
But more than the skills of the game, the most important things I’ve learned from rugby are not technical or even quantifiable. They are values which I’ve learned on the field but have applied in my every day life.
Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned from playing sports:
I learned the meaning of respect by observing the actions of others. The athletes, coaches and referees I’ve worked with in the past have shaped my idea of what actions, to me, earn respect.
Athletes that have gained my respect are not those who score the most points, or have the largest number of fans, they are the ones who do good even on the sidelines, when no one is watching. It's the players who clean the dressing sheds after a match, the ones who make sure no rubbish is left behind, the ones who look after themselves and their teammates. They are the ones who pay tribute to the opposition after a painful defeat. The ones who are humble after a victory. They are respectful of the people behind the scenes who helped them get to where they are. They remember names of staff members, ask them about their familes and offer genuine conversations. These are the players I respect, and the ones I try to emulate both on and off the field.
I learned discipline by not taking shortcuts.
It’s about completing a workout set -- each and every repetition --- even when the coach isn’t watching. It’s about waking up every morning, at 6AM sharp, to practice a skill until it’s perfected. It’s about eating right, saying no to late nights, and resting my body. It’s about not making excuses.
Discipline is about doing what it takes to fulfill what you set out to do. There are some aspects you cannot control like the weather, the referee and the atmosphere around you. But being disciplined is not one of them. The top athletes are successful because they do things many people do not want to do, they stick to a strict routine and get the job done. Discipline becomes second nature to them.
Because of sports, I’ve learned to be disciplined in going after my goals not just in rugby, but in life and in my career.
Having my Fitbit allows me not only to measure and stay on top of an active lifestyle,
but more importantly to be punctual. Being on time is critical in this age,
time management is a huge foundation for success in a professional athlete.
We have a saying in the Philippine Volcanoes: professionalism is not about a paycheck, it is an attitude. The Volcanoes is by far one of the most underfunded unions compared to the other national teams we compete against. However the results tell a different story.
Having the right attitude pays far more than money when it comes to performance. You don't play well because you get paid more, you play well because your attitude towards training and the game is professional. That’s what defines a professional athlete.
Being professional is also about being punctual. What I learned from my time playing rugby in Japan is 5 minutes early is 10 minutes late. We were always expected to be ready 15 minutes before departure. Players were expected to be sitting on the bus at 7:45AM for an 8:00AM departure. As soon as the clock hit 8:00AM, the bus left regardless of who is there. The team didn't wait for anyone, regardless of status or experience.
The great Vince Lombardi who coached the Greenbay Packers American football team once said, “The question is usually not how well each person performs, but how well they work together.”
Having the ability to work in a team is crucial not just in sports, but in all aspects of life. Respect is earned by being a good team leader and a good team player -- people want you on the team when you’re able to work with the team. Teamwork is about being patient and trusting the direction the coaches have taught you. It’s about adjusting to each other. It’s not about how many points you score throughout your career, but about how many times you get selected to play -- because being selected means the coach thinks you fit well with the rest of the team.
I first learned to value legacy back in 2010, when our head coach asked the leadership group to establish team values which each player agreed on. What did this national team represent and what did it want to strive for? There were no wrong answers. They wanted to know how this national team wanted to be remembered.
Legacy was brought up and everyone agreed it was a team value that drove each of us to play. Legacy was about being remembered, about leaving the jersey in a better place than when you first picked it up. It was about making an impact, inspiring the youth, and changing people’s lives through the power of sports. JJ Watt a professional NFL player once said a jersey is never owned, it is only ever leased. And rent is due everyday. The Volcanoes adopted this culture, this meant you had to earn your spot back in the national side every single day.
This is a necklace I wear everyday, it's the value I hold closest to me.
It was a gift, I simply had to answer what my life intent and goal
would be if I could only have one word. I chose legacy.
To leave a legacy you needed to have made a tremendous effort for people to remember you. I like to believe the Volcanoes continue to do so. Every time the team plays, it strives to leave a legacy among its supporters and everyone involved in the game. Emotional reward is more important than material compensation.
Understanding the value of legacy has urged me to also be introspective with my own life: what legacy would I like to leave personally? Keeping that in mind has helped guide my decisions in my daily life.
Feel free to give your thoughts on the comment box below.