Ego: Artists and Athletes

I’ve been obsessing on the concept of motivation since I was in grade school, and I think this will be the start of a series on that topic.

Today I wanted to speak on a facet of it I have always been lacking: confidence.

I’ve never been a big sports guy.  I can play them when I want and be average or a little bit above, but I am not a performer, so I escape usually.  I have watched sports, but I’m not a sports watcher.  I love history and the United States, so I have watched more historical documentaries on baseball than I’ve watched baseball.  But, I will watch the World Series and some playoff games.  It’s pretty much the same with the other professional sports.  Golf and Football being the two I watch the most.

In the NFL there has always been showboating and celebrating…I have always hated it.  It goes against a lot of my core beliefs.  I thought it should be shut down and people should be fined for wasting time and demanding a spotlight in a team sport.

I was wrong.

As the grey grows across my chin I realize, it is necessary…like fights in hockey.  

Let’s look at a football example.

You play defense.  It is your job to get to the quarterback and put him on/in the turf.  You have spent tens of thousands of hours of your life in a gym lifting weights (which is no small thing…it’s way more mental than you think!) There has not been a day since you were 12 that you didn’t think about the food you are eating.  You have spent thousands of hours learning to move your feet correctly to do your job.  You’ve spent thousands more doing the same thing with you hands.  Your entire being is focused on this one task.

Now, put more adrenaline in the mix, enough that you are riding high.  You are mentally focused and emotionally controlled to execute your task.  It’s the big game.

“Hut!” Yells the quarterback and you go into motion.  Fifteen years of your life’s hard work is culminating in this one moment…and your mom is watching…

“Hi.  I am an offensive lineman.  I too, have spent fifteen years of my life honing my skills with a singular focus.  And, my mom is bigger and my coach is better.”

“Son of a bitch.”  You think as you pick yourself up from the turf.

That is pretty much how the whole game goes for you.  It’s like you are in a nightmare and you have to fight but you can’t move fast enough, and your punches are powerless.  Your frustration levels are growing to extreme levels as the game goes on.

But, with each play you get a do-over.  You get to move your hands faster.  Plant that back foot harder.  (Like in a video game where you can roll back time, or restart from the same place, then play it over and over, until you reach whatever your perfect scenario may be.)

Finally you anticipate their move and hit them just right, and you get past them and charge towards the quarterback…but, the play went the opposite direction and you are nowhere near him.


You still think you may have something on your opponent though.  Next play…you’re on your back.  He corrected…better mom, better coach.

That continues for the rest of the game, until…plant foot…”wax off”…go go go…and smash!   “YEAH!!!  In your face frustration!  In your face offensive lineman’s superior genes! I fought through and won!” you think, as you flex your muscles for the world to see.

I have no problem with that, as long as it is fleeting.  Spike the ball, flex your muscles, then put your humble helmet back on and have a seat on the bench with the rest of your team.

But, they have to let off some steam.  If you don’t, it just builds up (ask their wives) and turns ugly (ask their wives.)

If you celebrate too much, let it become an ego out of balance, then you are broken in a whole other way.  A way that seems to be much worse.  You can’t be happy without humility.

I’m not an athlete, so why am I talking about this?  Well, I have this opinion that I am an artist.  And, as such, I have wrestled with my own ego since puberty I guess.  Mostly I lacked confidence, at least enough to keep me from the grand things in life.  But, I also have great moments of hubris!

I have come to realize it is okay to spike the ball.  If I can step above society for little glimpses of truths to share, and they are heard and understood?  I can have a little celebration.  A little celebration…then I put my humble hat on and return to my seat in the back of the bus. (Which was the view I used to see above.)

Any artist who doesn’t spike the ball goes insane.  Every artist who doesn’t stop spiking the ball becomes a cartoonthen goes insane.  Balance people…balance.




Things didn’t end so well for this guy, his mistress, and his friends a few years later.


This is, of course, directed at the people like myself who do not innately have that balance, or have not implemented the appropriate ego balancing mechanism.

For those of you who have, spike the ball!








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