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Sports and Spherical Thinking

Sports and Spherical Thinking

As I sit here at my keyboard, my gaze lands upon a cherished gift from our daughter, Danielle, and a smile graces my lips. It’s a framed collection of precious family memories, and what strikes me is that six out of the ten featured moments revolve around sporting and athletic events. These events may not appeal to everyone, but for those of us for whom they hold a special place, we understand that their benefits extend far beyond the sport itself. Rather, they provide quality time spent with family and friends, a sense of community and connection, and a fun, healthy pursuit amidst the rigors of “real life.”

Until they don’t.

There are times when sports can take an unhealthy turn, igniting negative emotions, triggering addictive tendencies, and revealing the less favorable aspects of our personalities. While I’ve been fortunate enough not to experience these extreme reactions, I admit that I’ve let the outcome of a seemingly inconsequential game (meant for enjoyment!) raise my blood pressure, rob me of sleep, and send my emotions into a downward spiral for hours on end. I delve into this topic in more depth and practicality in this week’s abbreviated episode of Coffee with Coop on the Catalyst 360 podcast (Kaitlyn – link to episode here and then highlight it elsewhere as usual).

In the meantime, it’s worth considering the concept of Spherical Thinking, which can serve as a powerful initial step—whether we’re discussing sports or ANY other aspect of life that inappropriately dominates our thoughts and lives.

  1. Sphere of Control: This encompasses our thoughts regarding things we can directly change. In terms of well-being, it includes the Move/Fuel/Rest/Connect steps we share on a weekly basis. This category covers elements we generally have the power to change on our own.
  2. Sphere of Influence: Similar to the previous category, but here, our control is not absolute. We have the ability to exert some level of influence.
  3. Sphere of Concern: Our power and control end with the second category. Items falling into this third sphere might warrant our attention or awareness, but we have no capacity to alter their outcomes in any way.

Sports predominantly belong to the third category, the Sphere of Concern. I may be the most dedicated CSU Rams fan you’ll ever meet, but my role remains limited to that of a “fan.” I’m not a player, coach, or consultant, and as much as I’d like to believe that wearing the right socks and hat on game day influences the outcome 😊, we know that’s not the case. So what’s the takeaway? It’s about shifting my focus primarily to category #1 and partially to #2: Organize tailgating with the tent, chairs, and grill near the stadium so everyone can savor our time together… Greet fellow fans with high-fives and smiles… Relish the chance to catch up with family and friends whom we might not otherwise see for weeks on end. But the game’s outcome? It firmly resides in Sphere #3 and, while it may be inherent to being a fan, it clearly plays a minor role in the grander scheme of things.

For those of you who couldn’t care less about sports, don’t think you’re off the hook. What’s your equivalent of “sports”? What are the aspects of your life over which you have no control or influence, yet they occupy a disproportionately large portion of your thoughts and mental energy?

The intriguing part of all this is that those who focus on #1 notice a corresponding decrease in #3. And research tells us that these individuals lead happier and, quite obviously, more productive lives. So, while we don’t typically encourage our readers to focus solely on themselves, this is one instance where it makes perfect sense to “look out for #1!”

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