Up Your Game

JVS_Victory!_P-R2011

[2011 Paris-Roubaix Winner, Johan Vansummerenwinning the bike race after a 15km solo breakaway]

Simple words are sometimes the most profound and meaningful.  “Up your game.”  It’s a command, a spur, an encouragement, a motivator.

I find this phrase coming to my mind periodically.  It happens when I witness someone trying to shift blame for a mistake or problem, when I see someone settling for less than their best effort, and when I catch myself not trying to be better at whatever task I’m engaged with.

Obviously the phase is likely indigenous to sports, with the use of the word “game”.  However, it really applies to so much more in life.  Maybe apropos of the many ways sports teach us how to deal with daily life and the real world.

It’s really about effort and holding yourself to a higher standard to do the very best you can.  In sports it could be making every free-throw, or having better at-bats, or nailing the ollie on your skateboard, or mastering the corner kick, or whatever.

The concept of making your best effort applies to all facets of life.  Whether you’re a student and we’re talking about your studies, a kid in a family doing the chores your parents asked you to do, when you come through with a good performance you feel good about yourself.

Whether you’re a worker of ANY type who has tasks to complete (which is what you’re paid to do), or in efforts at home to make your family life — whatever the circumstance — as positive and enjoyable as possible for everyone, you make a difference for yourself and those around by doing your best.

In fact, I would say that doing the best we can is something we owe to ourselves, and those around us.  After all, when we DON’T do the best we can, our self-esteem drops, we feel like we fell short, we missed the mark,  we let someone down — first and foremost, ourselves.

I’d like to say upping your game is something we should do “every day, in every way”, but that’s not the truth really.  Letting things slide a bit sometimes is inevitable and necessary — we can’t do it all.  If we attempt to perform at the very highest level, all the time, we’ll get tired, sloppy, and our motivation will lessen as we inevitably fail (at least partially) at something.

We have to prioritize efforts so that our limited energy is put to maximum use.  We also have to manage our commitments in a manner commensurate with the time we have available.   You hear this frequently when reading time management tips, with experts suggesting we schedule our most important work of the day during the hours when we have the most energy, concentration, motivation.

“Up your game.”

In the end, the phrase should encourage us to strive, to reach, to focus, to improve, to expect more of ourselves.  Use it with others in the right manner, together with constructive, supportive tone and commitment, and they’ll shine as well.

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