When I was younger, before every important round, my sister used to send me this quote by Jim Courier:

“Sportsmanship, for me, is when a guy walks off the court, and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way.”

She would text it to me, along with a message wishing me luck and encouraging me to display good character, regardless of the outcome. It served as a constant reminder to me that, amid all the pressure to perform, who I was as a person was most important. It helped me distinguish my self-worth from my performance and emphasized the importance of not just being the best player on that day but also the best person I could be.

As I grew older, that quote started to influence other aspects of my life. Whether I was having a good or bad day, filled with hope or doubt, what mattered most was the person I was becoming through each challenge and triumph. It wasn’t just about the person I was becoming but also about who I was in the face of adversity.

I was recently reminded of this quote when reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. In the book, he discussed identity-based habits and how our habits shape our identity and vice versa. The core message of his teaching is to help establish effective habits to achieve our goals because goals without systems or purposeful habits are like shooting in the dark. I came across this excerpt and it caused me to pause and reflect:

“It’s important to let your values, principles, and identity drive the loop rather than your results. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not achieving a specific outcome.”

In essence, our focus should be on who we are in the process of everyday life, rather than achieving a momentary goal. When I was younger, it was challenging to grasp this concept. How could who I am in in the process be more important than what I accomplish at the end? I often fell into the trap of thinking I’d only be happy or feel successful once I achieved a certain milestone, only to realize that the journey to get there was the most satisfying part.

In the moments following the fleeting high of success, when I felt a sense of emptiness, I would turn to the quote my sister sent me. It was a reminder that my character mattered, regardless of wins or losses.

This perspective has become even more significant in my life today. When things weigh me down, or I struggle to cope with the uncertainties of the future, I take a step back to remind myself that the ultimate goal isn’t the destination but who I am every day. This serves as a motivation for me to choose joy, hope, positivity, and, most importantly, to cherish the gift of the present.

The Good Stuff

A great quote from Stanford standout, Rachel Heck, on lasting joy compared to momentary satisfaction.