Our camp's theme was "Fit to WIN". It's so easy to talk about fitness nowadays, with all the health and wellness focus of our society and generation. Physical, emotional, relational, intellectual, moral and spiritual fitness. It's everywhere.
But, what does it really mean to be fit to win?
What are we trying to win at all?
To be fit to win, I believe we need to have the FACE to WIN. "FACE" stands for 'Focus [to win]', 'Aim [to win]', 'Commit [to win]' and 'Engage [to win]'.
1. Focus to Win!
Before we start training, we need to know what we're training for first. A runner does not need punching bags or do weight lifting. If you are in a science quiz bee, why study on politics and current issues? Amusingly, most people make that elementary mistake — we start doing stuff because it looks easy, fun, or simply because other people are doing it.
Why are you doing something?
Understanding our own basic motivations lead us to what we call core values. This can be ideals that we have subconsciously ingrained, or personal principles that we have consciously and purposely set for our selves. For example: If I say that my core values are God, food, family — this pretty much shows the rank and order of what I value most. When there's a conflict, I automatically base my decision on this ranking without having to think hard about it. In the same way, it's also easier for me to give up things that are not included in this ranking.
What is most important and/or urgent for what you want to achieve?
Core values help us determine our priorities. It makes us discard the distractions, and forces us to concentrate on the essentials. It no longer becomes a battle between what's difficult and what's easy; it becomes a conflict between what's important to you and what's irrelevant. Consequently, as we grow in Christ — we start to choose between what's right against what's wrong. This is turn becomes our moral set of values.
But just having a clear idea of what you want is not enough to win.
·•·2. Aim to Win!
It's one thing to see a target. It's another to hit it.
But you need to aim at something.
Sure, we can hit something even if we don't aim at anything. An old, popular quote goes:
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”
— W. Clement Stone
But serendipity or luck is not what make us winners.
Aiming for something isn't just wishful thinking. Throwing balls in baseball or basketball isn't just happy accidents. It takes focus and skill to make score a goal or hit a strike.
Your aim gives your focus direction. The question is: which direction do you intend to go?
Among the most common personal assessment or life coaching questions we'll encounter is — "What/where do you see yourself in five to ten years from now?" Being able to visualize what you want not only requires concentration, but intention as well. This is what we often refer to as "vision".
When I was being trained as a CAT Officer in high school, two of the most unforgettable lessons I've learned to apply in every aspect of my life are presence of mind and reference point.
Presence of mind is controlling and focusing one's consciousness against and amidst distraction and/or adversity. With presence of mind, we could be tickled endlessly without laughing, be alert for commands, keep marching even when our bodies are tired, keep track of several orders simultaneously, and a lot of other crazy stuff. Presence of mind allows us to automatically filter information and make quick decisions.
Reference point, on the other hand, is most important during marches. It's one thing to listen and execute a command flawlessly; it's another thing to keep the right direction, or even stay aligned as a squad, platoon, company, battalion and/or regiment. Reference points allows not only a person to keep going straight; it helps everyone else keep the same direction. Reference points aren't just on the front; the person on our sides are also our reference points.
It's hard to keep a reference point that you can't see — just try walking on a line on the floor with your eyes closed! In the same way, our 'vision' serves as both guide and motivation.
But let's admit it: we don't feel motivated every day.
3. Commit to Win!
Like all skills and talents, practice makes "perfect" (actually, it should be 'excellent' - but oh well, that's the popular quote). Hitting targets can be a God-given gift for some, but nonetheless it requires training.
One thing I learned about training: If you give up half-way, it's a good as going back to square one.
Quitting takes practice too — and the more practice it, the more you get good at it.
To focus and aim for something, you need to make a continuous commitment. We're easy to forget, easy to make excuses, easy to procrastinate and delay. To commit means fighting back against these instinctive urges, battering not just our bodies but our very mind, spirit and will as well into obedience. Commitment makes us push harder, farther. Commitment keeps us going despite fatigue, hunger, pain, angst, distractions, and obstacles.
Commitment is what makes a mission a mission. If something is simple and easy and poses no risk or opposition, it's not a mission — it's just a simple routine chore. The term "mission" itself is mostly used in military to indicate something really important and dangerous. Feeding puppies is not a mission; turning puppies into ninja dogs is a mission. Doing laundry is not a mission; providing clean clothing for every street child is a mission.
People are prone to waver in our commitments. It's not just about giving up on something; it can also be about sneakily "adjusting" our commitments — toning them down so we can cheat our way to an easier sense of accomplishment. While there are times that we do need to adjust our commitment — like when we realize we're going the wrong direction — other than a corrective purpose, fixing a commitment to make ourselves comfortable is no different than quitting.
While commitment is most often focused on passive or minor hindrances, there comes a point when a major problem blocks the way.
Should we then take it as a sign from God and give up? Or is it an opportune challenge?
4. Engage to Win!
We've seen it in movies. But we may have also experienced it in our own simple lives: The greatest victory of a mission is always preceded by the most difficult dilemma or obstacle.
Just like when the Avengers were about to lose all hope when alien enemies kept coming, and the city was about to be nuked.
Just like when William Wallace (BraveHeart) was given a choice to surrender and live, or refuse and die.
Just like when Jesus struggled with tears and blood in Gethsemane — and was tempted to step away from the most pivotal heroic sacrifice of all time.
Just like when you're about to give up from your most heart (and brain) wrenching school thesis / final project, or when the team you're supporting is in a tight match within the last few seconds of the game. Or when you're at your lowest point in your life, and you just want to hate all or end all because of all the problems life is overwhelming you with.
At those times, you just need to make a stand. And face it with faith.
Engage the enemy. Don't turn around. Don't look back.
Focus reminds us.
Aim pushes us.
Commitment prepares us.
Engagement readies us.
To engage an enemy means not to retreat in the face of a difficult or even hopeless situation. You take it on. You rush forward to meet the big wave.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 3:13-15 NIV
Where are you facing? Are you facing backwards or is your FACE towards God's direction for you? And when we lose sight of everything, God's FACE is there with us, reminding us to focus our eyes on Him — the author and finisher of our faith. We may stumble and fail a lot of times, but we just need to keep going- holding on to His promises and getting up again and again. Wavering, yet unyielding. Scared, but trusting. Confused, but hope-driven. Even when everything in us wants to cry out and just give in, let's keep a steady strong FACE and look the world with courage — and smile in expectance knowing that beyond all these temporary troubles, we can see God's face — saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
— 1 Corinthians 9:24 NLT
Have FACE to WIN. Set your goals, make them happen and be a WINNER!
NOTE: This blog is an updated, revised and powered-up version from my camp talk. Bumabawi lang because I really suck at verbal communication haha! Good day!