(This is an excerpt from Assisted by John Stockton and Kerry L. Pickett.)
“That year I began to learn that whether you are ahead or behind, concentrating on the quality of your performance is the essence of competing. Winning makes it fun, and if you master competing, you will win most of the time. The preparation process makes the experience fulfilling. No preparation means no foundation to build on in the future.
Additionally, it is hard to build character or inner strength without demanding regimens, hard work, and trying times on the practice floor. Often, in today’s models of equal playing time without reference to practice or performance standards, I think kids are robbed of valuable tools to confront life’s real circumstances. Competitive athletics should be a metaphor for real life. In today’s world, we seem to be skewing the relationship to our children’s disadvantage by making rules that bypass the investment and go directly to the dividends. If everyone gets a trophy, the only winners are the fragile egos of the parents.
“I didn’t fully recognize it, but I was beginning to learn lessons that were shaping my life. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard them before at home; I had. But they were being cemented in my mind forever because of the source. I was learning that good people come in all packages, even loud, scary, foreign packages. “I also began to see that working hard hurts, but that I could endure a lot of pain as well and keep going. You can train yourself to not get tired. I came to appreciate the mental aspect of fatigue.
Finally, I learned that self-esteem (not that I had ever heard of the term at that time), cannot be given. Self- confidence is earned by accomplishing things through your own efforts—things previously beyond your reach."
(John Stockton and Kerry L. Pickett, Assisted: An Autobiography [Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 2013], 52–53).