In 1972 Muhammed Ali walked across the University of Florida football field, now aptly named “The Swamp”. He proceeded to the event stage built for his talk to several thousand college students yelling, “Ali! Ali! Ali!” He approached the microphone and paused into silence before speaking. “What I am going to tell you is one of the most important things in your life you may ever consider — so listen very carefully. If in your life you do not take the time to discover the true purpose of your life — such as why are you here; what you are to do while you are here – then your life will have been wasted.”

Muhammed Ali then proceeded to deliver one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever had the good fortune of listening to in my life. I can testify that as a student athlete on football scholarship at UF this talk absolutely and quickly changed the trajectory of my life.

For most of us, the COVID-19 crisis is providing an opportunity to retreat into isolation, to stay at home and stay safe for a period of time. While saying this our collective heart goes out to all the first responders, healthcare workers, food store workers, fire and police departments, National Guard and Reserve units, and to all the others who keep the engine of this recovery running. For those of us at home who were suddenly given a retreat we did not ask for, this crisis offers an opportunity to remember what is truly important in life – how fragile life really is, how we are here for only a short while, how beautiful an opportunity it is to live, breathe, be with the ones we love, have an alive body that can play sport. 

Following Muhammed Ali’s inspirational call, this COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for a Big Picture look at your life to reflect on the most important aspects of your life. What is the driving purpose in your life; what do you hold most dearly; what is your heart truly committed to, and are your actions and behavior a reflection of this?

These are some of the essential questions I ask early on in my counseling sessions. With athletes I do lots of work with focus, mindfulness and especially attention. The old saying has truth, “wherever your attention goes, energy will follow”. Another way to say it, “whatever you give your attention to, that will flourish”. Your attention serves you for better or worse, good or bad. Give all your attention to your addictions, bad habits, destructive behaviors – then that arena will flourish. Give your attention to your true purpose in life, to your natural God-given talents, to the parts of your life that are precious and closest to your heart – and you will see optimal performance in your work and contentment in your soul.

Again, going back to Muhammed Ali, is your purpose shining through in your life? Does your focus and attention reflect what you really want in your life? These are the questions that can be fully explored during a personal retreat, so make the most of this moment and please remain safe!

– James C. Revels, Athlete Counselor for The Becoming Athletics

James Revels, LPC is a mindfulness-based counselor living in Asheville, North Carolina. James’ specialty at this time is working with athletes, performers and artists, and anyone seeking to live their true potential. If you would like to schedule a session with James, go to https://thebecoming.clientsecure.me to reach out to James directly, his email is [email protected]. Check out the other services The Becoming: Counseling and Wellness has to offer at www.thebecomingcounseling.com or www.thebecomingathletics.com