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You Can’t Microwave Success

Success for athletes means consistently demonstrating excellence in their sport. This requires dedication, hard work, discipline, and mature decision-making. It also involves training to reach new performance levels, developing the mental grit to handle pressure situations, and having the right support system (coaches, teammates, family, etc.) that encourages growth and development. Ultimately success is about setting goals and achieving them in a way that satisfies you.

Some popular misconceptions around achieving success in college athletics include that it is easy to achieve, that talent alone is enough, and that academic performance is optional. However, reaching the top tier in college athletics requires hard work, dedication, and a complete commitment to balancing schoolwork with training sessions and competitions. It also involves access to excellent support systems like coaches committed to helping athletes reach their goals.

The human desire for instant gratification can hurt achieving success in college athletics, as it undermines the long-term commitment and hard work necessary. Athletes must be willing to put in the time and effort needed to progress their skills over an extended period to excel at the college level. The craving for quick rewards without sustained effort can make this difficult, but it's still possible with adequate focus and dedication. The Bible encourages us to be patient and put our trust in God. It speaks of the dangers of seeking immediate gratification and reminds us that true fulfillment comes from living a life devoted to Him. For example, Proverbs 13:12 states, "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" (NIV).

So... "You can't microwave success." A good friend and colleague, David Irizarry, told me that a few years back. David is the current Athletic Director at IDEA North Mission and a former NFL football player who knows something about hard work. Success cannot be achieved overnight or with a quick fix. It requires sustained effort, commitment, and passion for what you are doing to achieve your goals. David told me, "It's like cooking meat in the oven. You gotta season yourself with the grind, marinate yourself, then place in the oven. Be patient and maintain consistent heat. You'll come out ready when you've been properly prepared. Rest then serve" (My vegan heart will forgive the meat analogy).

Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us that our work should honor and glorify God, even when pushing ourselves physically and mentally on the court. This also means setting realistic expectations and understanding that progress may take time as you hone your skills, develop mental toughness, build supportive relationships, and adjust to changing circumstances. Instant gratification does not equate to true success - it's about striving for excellence and finding fulfillment through reaching one's ambition.

Kara Lawson is a three-time national champion and two-time All-American at Duke. She won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA and has become one of history's most successful women's college basketball coaches. By consistently challenging herself to do hard things better, Kara has achieved extraordinary heights on and off the court – inspiring countless athletes to follow suit.

Kara Lawson's famous mantra "Handle Hard Better" is an important reminder that college sports are not accessible to everyone, and it takes hard work to excel. It encourages athletes to focus on improving their skills, pushing past their comfort zone, taking ownership of their development, and never settling for mediocrity or complacency. Ultimately, when athletes commit to doing hard things better each day, they can reach new heights in athletics and life!

So to all you athletes reading this, my call to action is simple. It means you must put in the work, hustle every day, and persevere through adversity. Take ownership of your development and push yourself harder than ever. Do what others won't, put in the extra time when people aren't watching, and be better than what you perceive to be the best version of yourself. Hard work always pays off so don't shy away from tackling tough challenges head-on. Lastly, you can't microwave success if you want to handle hard better.

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