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Atlanta Dream Coach, Mike Peterson recently had a thought for the day for his WNBA team. He said:

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls for protection.

Other people build windmills, to create power.

DT and I, we’re in the windmill business.

We’re going to build windmills after windmills after windmills.

OK? Let’s have a good day.”

What a fantastic principle.

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The AFL season starts tomorrow evening, which is always an exciting time for our household.

With my team, the Richmond Tigers, the reigning back-to-back premiers, I’ve been using the off-season to watch a lot of highlights of last year and one phrase that the team used a lot stands out.

“What’s in the way becomes the way.”

When something goes wrong, and a lot did, they don’t get frustrated or start complaining.

They go straight into problem solving mode.

If a player is injured, they find a suitable replacement.

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My wife and I love watching our kids play sport.

It’s great to watch them compete and the drive to and from events can be a great time for conversations.

But tonight Mads frustrated me.

She was playing basketball and kept reaching for the ball with one hand.

She’s not usually tentative, but she seemed to have lost some confidence and kept dropping the ball out of bounds.

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There was a time, many years ago now, when I was young and fit and reasonably athletic and I played Australian rules football.

I was never a great player, having mainly grown up playing basketball, but I enjoyed the experience.

One of the most vivid memories of my fleeting footy career is the feeling you get when the final siren sounds and you walk, or perhaps limp, off the ground.

Footy is a very physical game and the country leagues that I played in were brutal, so you felt as though every bone and muscle in your body had bumps and bruises.

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On my Twitter feed this week, a fellow Tigers supporter posted a photo of the Richmond VFL team from 1919 after they had lost the grand final to their archenemies, Collingwood.

In the photo, every player was beaming and the caption simply said,

Are we downhearted?

No.

What a wonderful attitude in the face of disappointment.

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The fastest runner doesn’t necessarily win the marathon.

It’s the person with the most effective preparation.

The person with the strongest mind who can push through the pain.

It’s the person who can run the hardest for the longest.

Sound familiar?

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This Saturday, my beloved Richmond Football Club has a chance to win their third AFL Grand Final in four years.

After such a tumultuous year, it has been a remarkable achievement from them (and their opponents, Geelong) to make it to the big dance and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to cement their place in history as one of the great modern dynasties of football.

The Richmond theme song has been heard a lot over the past few years and the war cry of “Yellow and Black” from 100,000 fans makes it one of the most popular reprises in the league, but it’s another line in the song that resonates with me.

“In any weather you will see us with a grin.”

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In 1980, little known guard, Terry Duerod was making his debut for the Boston Celtics late in a game against the New York Knicks.

He took one shot, a jump shot from the top of the key, which rattled against the rim and then fell out.

Feeling slightly dejected in the locker room after the game, the team’s star, Larry Bird, came up to him and encouraged him to take that shot every time.

Duerod was a shooter and it would have been easy to go into his shell after that miss, but in doing so, he wouldn’t have been able to make the most of his strengths.

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As a sports fan, today marks the end of an era.  For the first time in 22 years, the San Antonio Spurs have missed out on a spot in the NBA playoffs.  It’s an extraordinary run that won’t be repeated any time soon and it’s a record that’s made all the more amazing by the fact that coach Gregg Popovich has been at the helm for each of those 22 years.

I’m an unabashed fan of Coach Pop and have admired his leadership and coaching methods for long time, so how did such a great winner respond to his run being broken?

This is what he said:

“I don’t dwell on the past.  I don’t know who won the baseball championship from year to year. Four years ago, I don’t know who won the NBA championship. That stuff is totally unimportant. What’s important is the moment. You do what you gotta do and you move on.”

Yes, it was a great run, but he’s not lingering there.

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Football coach Pete Carroll was once asked, “Pete, which is better: winning or competing?”

He simply replied, “Competing… because it lasts longer.”

You may not feel as though you’re winning at the moment, but you can still compete.

You can still battle.

You can still persevere.

You can still do your best.

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