Shining the light on entitlement
Being back in Aus I have had the luxury of being able to play football again, something I had missed tremendously during my year in China.
After spending most of my career as a key position player, I surprisingly loved the shift to a role in the midfield when I had the privilege of playing down south for Bunbury. Coming back from China, I expected to play the same role for my new club. I had rotated in and out of the midfield for a couple of games, but been asked to play in the back line against key opponents- something I had not done even through juniors. I wasn't stoked. I love the fact you are around the ball in the midfield and can have a larger impact on influencing the game. So when the team line up came out on Friday and had me, again, named at Center Half Back, you can imagine I wasn't thrilled.
My mind took control.
"Ahhhh shit I hate the back line."
"Why the hell would they put me back there!? Didn't they see how well I played in the middle last week?"
"What's the point of playing if I don't get to play where Iwant to play!"
Right as I was beginning to text my brother to complain about this travesty against me, I became aware of my internal dialogue. I stepped out of the chatter of my mind and realizations started to come to me as I shifted my awareness.
"You were in China, desperately wishing you could be playing footy only a year ago. Now, when you get the chance to play again, you are complaining about whereyou are playing!?"
"What happened to just enjoying being out on the field and playing for fun?"
"When did you start thinking that you were above the team? A few years ago, you would have done anything for the good of the team."
I realized then I was feeling very entitled, expecting to play in the midfield because I had played very well there in the past, but without any regard for the coach’s plan or the team’s needs. I found this very interesting, as I know I had never had that frame of mind about football before. To be honest, I had always judged former teammates who had outwardly acted this way.
My mind then turned to other areas of my life. If I was showing this sense of entitlement in football, were there other facets of my life that might I be doing the same? It turns out there were. They were little things, but entitlement none the less; the feeling that lunch should be made for me because I had begun shift work, working 12 hr days and that because I was doing the late shift that I shouldn't have to grease up the machine.
This was powerful for me because it shone a light of awareness on where my ego was peaking out and rearing its ugly head. In placing my awareness on it, I was immediately able to recognize it for what it was and had the ability to control my perception around it. Instead of resisting the new role, I chose to embrace the challenge, help be the player who anchors the team and allow myself to be open to actually ENJOYING it. The results were immediate. The next game, I killed it and was awarded the “Best on Ground” award. It was not only the success and recognition though; it was that I loved that I got to play next to one of my oldest friends, feeding off each other and leading the back line, while revelling in the challenge of learning a new position.
The irony is that after getting unsettled, feeling the entitlement, choosing to change my perspective, being open and playing my best game of the year, the next week the coach told me I wasn't needed in the back line and was going back to start back in the midfield.
I had learned my lesson.