There is no instruction manual for 2020. There is no map or GPS to tell us what is around the next corner, over the next mountain, or across the next river. In fact, there is nothing even to tell us that there is a corner, mountain, or river in our path. We don't discover them until we are there, just as we don't discover the unprecedented twists and turns of events as we travel through 2020 until they happen.
A map or GPS allows someone setting out on a journey through a new area to ascertain what to expect, and when and where to expect it. This map or GPS is a summary of the knowledge and experience of those who have gone before them. This knowledge allows them to plan and prepare for the journey. They can plan a route that avoids specific perils and maximizes scenic views or ease of travel. Although they may not fully appreciate the magnificence of the mountain or the breadth of the river indicated on the map until they actually see it, they still know a mountain or river is coming.
Without a map or GPS, they are strangers navigating a strange land, having no idea what is coming or when it is coming during their journey.
But they don't need a map or GPS.
All they really need is a compass.
A compass provides the only two things you need, orientation as to where you are and the direction you need to travel to reach your desired destination. But it gives you absolutely no clue what you'll see on the way to your destination.
For centuries, human beings explored new worlds without a map or GPS. They oriented themselves at first using only the stars to guide their direction and, later, a compass. These explorers gradually mapped our world and even began mapping our universe.
They embarked on their journeys with the knowledge that they could not control whatever obstacles they would encounter. With no map or GPS, they couldn't plan a route that avoided these unknown obstacles. They couldn't design a journey that gave them the smoothest path to their destination. Knowing only their destination, they had to decide whether and how to go around, through, or over whatever obstacles they encountered. The required problem-solving also produced innovations from which we all still benefit today.
If you are an athlete seeking to reach your goal of athletic excellence, you must be like these explorers.
You know that your destination is athletic excellence. You understand that the journey to that destination is in the direction of consistent training and a disciplined lifestyle. These are your compass and stars, so you know where you are at and the direction in which you must go to reach your destination.
While it's true that you don't know and cannot control the obstacles that will appear along the way, you can control your response to them when you encounter them.
You alone control whether to go over, through, or around those obstacles. You alone must determine whether those obstacles will be an excuse for failure or a tool to gain experience and skill.
But you have help on this journey through the unknown. Your coaches, parents, and teammates are your navigators and your crew. Draw on them for advice and support. Each may have some unique insight or wisdom regarding how best to overcome a particular obstacle.
Now is the time to stop being an athletic tourist with a map and start being an athletic explorer with a compass.
Competitions may get canceled. Train anyway.
Opportunities may be limited. Prepare for them anyway.
Obstacles may be encountered. Keep making progress anyway.
Setbacks may happen. Keep pushing forward anyway.
Failure may happen. Succeed anyway.
And don't forget to write.