Three letters can say quite a lot.
Depending on how they are arranged, they say something different.
Shared one after the other they are incredibly significant.
How we say something is as important as what we say.
When we know who we are, we will know what to do.
Let's think about this in the context of team.
Should we win at all costs, or for a cause? At all costs might help us achieve the win, but we'd be sacrificing something too valuable along the way. Honor. When we tackle a task as a team, for a cause, we are doing it for something bigger than ourselves. We can start to get a glimpse of what it means to be there for one another.
I recently read a book this summer that talked about the greatest qualities in a captain. One of the characteristics they lauded was winning at all costs. To push the boundaries. The examples they gave, and began to explain away as acceptable because it was within the boundary of sport, shocked me.
And I'm afraid that is the world we are living in. It's the world we are raising our kids in. It's the world that says it's ok to taunt, trash-talk, and berate an opponent. After all, we are only "getting in their head". What we miss is that we are also getting in their heart. We are showing them that HOW we say something, and what we say matters not, as long as we win.
We are living in a time when WHO we are in sport is separated from WHO we are in "real life". I'm afraid for a generation who thinks this is normal, healthy, and ok. My heart breaks as they will grow into adulthood thinking that winning at all costs makes them a champion because they "gave all they had".
In the process they will have given away something more important.
I haven't held a medal, trophy, patch, or plaque that is worth that.
And if we continue to make excuses for behavior like this in sport, what's to stop it from being repeated in academics, vocation, and relationships?
If excuses for behavior like this becomes our currency, we'll have raised a generation that experiences emotional bankruptcy.
Part of this journey is teaching the next generation that we value accountability. We value honor. We value service. We value stepping in and sacrificing our preference for the good of the team. We value standing up for ideals, and for those who can't. We value hard work, no excuses, and pushing through tough times.
I've coached for nearly 20 years.
There has never been a greater need for our generation...the parents...to stand shoulder to shoulder and raise the bar. It's one that must be lifted higher. And in order to do that across the board, it will be heavier. It's one that can, should, and will be done...if it's done together.
To be clear, I'm not being cryptic about any one situation I've experienced as a coach. I'm not writing today based on my current coaching position. I'm writing this because it's been on my heart for a long time. I'm writing this because something deep in my heart senses that this whole thing might be getting away from us more than we care to admit.
We look the other way far too often. We pretend like our kid(s) couldn't possibly be involved, or part of a problem. We have forgotten that we too were once kids. We too needed direction, guidance, and yes...discipline.
I can sum up the greatest need our children have in one word:
I can sum up how we as parents should see our next steps in one word:
To hold our ground. To teach from our failures. To instill honor. To model service. To live humbly. To demand respect for their elders. To teach them to make eye contact when speaking. To teach them to say please and thank you. To listen. To hold doors. To go last, letting everyone else receive before we take. To arrive early. To put in an honest days work. To sweat for something we believe in. To stand tall in the face of criticism that's unwarranted. To believe the best in people. To be consistent in our effort. To admit when we are wrong. To take ownership of our shortcomings.
The list could go on. It should go on. And at the end of the day, it should spur us on. To live a life that honors others above ourselves. To admit that how we say things is as important as what we say.
And when it's all said and done, if we look around and see a generation of disrespect growing, we need to own that it's coming from seeds we've planted.
Put another way...
We put the entitlement papers on their desk to sign with our approach.
I think it's time we rescinded that offer.
I think it's time we do better.
If you already are, I applaud you, and look forward to learning from you.
In the meantime, I'll be using what platform I have as a coach to teach as many things off the list above to every group I have the honor to coach. Once in a while I'll run into a person here or there that thinks I'm too optimistic and idealistic. Forgive me if that not only doesn't bother me, but rather inspires me.
I'm staying the course.
I'm taking the opportunity to hold my ground and teach accountability.
If I can help one more student-athlete to discover WHO they are, and help them to unleash their God-given potential?
That's the win I'm after.
This is why I coach.