Discipline vs Habitual Behaviors
I was born in a messy country; one in which every solution has a problem -Yes, you read well. – and is quite easy to find yourself having to come up with answers glued with duck-tape and last-minute deliveries freshly baked with sweat and very creative ingredients.
Once my school got chosen for a state sports event by mistake. Despite the fact that we didn’t have a gymnastics or track and field team a month or so prior to the events; our principal signed up. Go figure!
The coach went nuts, of course; he got some of his athletes from the Volleyball and Basketball teams to apply for the madness and_ me.
I had no experience or training. In two weeks, I had to learn the basics of running the dash, throwing the javelin, and high jump techniques; plus, the obligatory gymnastics floor, balance rail and pommel horse routines for beginners.
How on earth, did they sign to enter a state competition with a less than a month for training?
Bear in mind that in some parts in Latino America, representing your school in competition is not the same as Varsity sports in the USA (which involved colleges/universities at the highest levels). It would be more alike those Club teams that any student can join based on his/her athletic abilities/interests; and where competitions are arranged by groups of institutions. Because the student’s involvement is recreational in nature, there is less pressure regarding meeting training and academic demands.
Why didn’t they stop me from doing it?
Not everybody would sign for a killer adventure involving painful extra hours under pressure. I suppose they were desperate! The blissfully unaware adventurer who didn’t know what it meant to get there; but loved the opportunity to experience and learn something new; jumped in! Logic wasn’t enough to stop me from stretching and strengthen muscles unmercifully and to change my diet! Yes, I was completely out of my mind!
That I sucked at gymnastics would be an understatement. I’m not naturally flexible. I learned my simple routines, performed them as best as I could, fell and got up and went home. The next week, I threw the javelin and jumped- I was much better here- and got someone in the dash to lend me a pair of running shoes. When the gun went off, I ran for dear life. Once done, and completely oblivious to the fact that I have won, I gave back the shoes and thanked my benefactor.
The next day I had to run the final -in my own shoes. I looked at the coach and told him, “I can’t do this, yesterday was sheer luck!” He pushed a bit of glucose in my mouth and answered; “go to your block and get ready to run.”
Those shoes got a gold medal in the short sprint race and an invitation to join the national team. They said no. My coach furious and I was disappointed; nevertheless, something else was born this day.
That experience showed me how much I loved to learn; to achieve something that seemed impossible. One of the participants was a member of the Gymnastic team of a gorgeous campus near home. I was able to train there when it was empty. I practice my small routines, force my body to do those things it rebelled against and saw improvement. I still sucked at Gymnastics, but those things I set myself to do, I mastered.
What does this have to do with discipline?
This was an out of the blue event that filled me with awe; I felt a deep desire to master those activities and applied myself totally to the task. I didn’t care how many hours it would require, the effort, the frustration of being on my own or the lack of resources and talent. Those things- movement and choreography, were beautiful and I wanted to be part of it, no matter what others had to say about it.
Discipline was a path to achieve what I’ve been told I couldn’t do, a compass to fulfill the desire to be part of something beautiful. Disciplined helped me oversee my limitations, turning them into “I can”. And just then every milestone was ignited with passion and trust.
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