Always a Blocker (or Jammer), Never an MVP

By September 15, 2016Blog, Mindset, Teamwork

Early this year (before every body part I have decided to go on hiatus), I was awarded MVP Blocker in a bout. For the first time. Ever.

See? I'm not making shit up.

See? I’m not making this shit up.

Wait, wait! Before you leave, thinking that this article is all an elaborate ploy to talk about how good I am, just hear me out: I’m pretty okay. The okayest. And I was always okay with being okay.

Receiving the MVP was a bit of a tour through the stages of grief:

  • DENIAL = “No way. I’ve never been given MVP before.”
  • ANGER = “What kind of sick joke are you playing on me? RUUUUDE.”
  • BARGAINING = “What if I went to EVERY practice? Would I be better? Would I win more MVPs?!?”
  • DEPRESSION = “What if I never win again? Was this a one-off? Damn. Now there’s so much to prove and so much pressure to perform.”
  • ACCEPTANCE = “It’s fine. I played a pretty good game. I’m proud of this. This is exciting.”

I had never thought winning MVP was possible for me. I had never wanted to win MVP. I had always valued what I bring to my team even though I hadn’t ever been the “most valuable”.

Click To Tweet

I saw my job on my team as a cog. As long as I did my job, the machine hummed along. I didn’t need to be a big, flashy widget. I didn’t need to have bells and whistles attached. I just needed to grind away like the cog that I was.

What’s so bad about showing up and doing a good job?

Nothing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. Except if “a good job” is all you’re ever aiming for.

The Curse of Knowledge

At the beginning of this year, when I won the MVP, I was working harder and smarter than I ever had before. I was coming off an injury that cut my last season short. I was watching lots and lots of high level derby. I had spent the off-season building up my strength and power. I was killing it at practice.

I wanted to get back on the track. I needed to be part of the team again. And I acted like it.

All of which culminated in my being awarded MVP blocker. It ended up being less an award and more a slap in the face.

Most teams have skaters of varying skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Even top level teams have skaters that fall along the spectrum of ability; the widgets v. the cogs. This variety helps add to the unexpected dynamic of team sports:

  • If widget #1 is having an off game, can widget #2 or #3 step up?
  • If all of your widgets are off, can your cogs step up?

The answer to these questions can be the difference between a win and a loss. And the answer can vary from day to day.

The problem with investing yourself in anything from day to day to day to day is that you get used to that thing. You get used to going to practice. You get used to the drills. You get used to playing with and against the same people (for those of us that scrimmage at practice. What, what!).

You just get used to playing roller derby. And when you get used to doing something, you tend to start taking it for granted. Click To Tweet

You start to build confidence in yourself (which is good) and that confidence turns into knowing that you can do a good job (which is bad). Wait, what?

The MVP Blocker Award was a slap in the face because it showed me how much better I am — how much better I could be — if I always play hungry. If I always practice, and play, like a cog with a point to prove.

The Curse of Complacency

com•pla•cen•cy (noun)

: a feeling of being satisfied with the way things are and not wanting to try to make them better

Complacency creeps up on you in the guise of satisfaction. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Except complacency is being satisfied with pretty good and good enough.

There will be plenty of times in your life -- and in derby -- when pretty good is pretty bad and good enough just isn't. Click To Tweet

Overcoming Complacency in 4 Easy Steps

  1. Stop collecting underpants. Don’t just do the thing and expect to profit. Do the work in Phase 2.
  2. Be intentional. Always. Showing up and going through the motions does not a badass make.
  3. Remember what you do it for. Get in touch with the wide-eyed freshie yearning to skate with the big dogs. Visit that person frequently.
  4. Take action. Eleanor Roosevelt (supposedly) famously said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Try the things that will make you better even if they terrify you. Watch those videos of fancy moves made by elite level skaters and give them a shot.

That MVP Blocker Award was earned on the blood, sweat, and tears of not accepting a good job as being good enough. I overcame my complacency because I felt like I was fighting for my spot on the team again. I felt like I had something to prove again. I wanted to be able to step up when the widgets went down.

We will all still have moments of being blinded by complacency, of course. However, next time you find yourself putting your head down and just getting the job done ask yourself if complacency might be killing you.

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About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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