Fail In Public
Sports are great until they’re not.
They’re not so great when egotism and selfishness are recognized and rewarded.
They’re not so great when laziness and talent beat hard work and discipline.
They’re not so great when everyone gets a trophy or when the trophy is all anyone cares about.
But, when they’re great, they’re really great.
Simply performing in public presents us with an important decision - will we hold back, play it safe, and try to control the outcome or will we let it go, take the risks that come with excellence, and surrender the outcome? It’s a big decision. A lot is at stake.
When you fail in public you are presented with a choice between character and compromise.
When you succeed in public you are presented with the same choice.
Why Should We Care?
As a high school basketball coach, my failures are always public. There is nowhere to hide and no one to blame. I’m constantly presented with the character or compromise dilemma. I’ve had a lot of reps. Unfortunately, I don’t always choose character. Fortunately, I’m going to keep getting better.
At this point in society, sports are viewed as just about anything but what they were intended for. Having been engulfed in youth sports the last ten years, the number of times I’ve heard “It’s all about getting that scholarship” or “It’s about getting recognized” or “It’s about respect” or “It’s about getting mine” is absurd. I don’t know that this mindset has become the majority, but it has definitely become the loudest.
Better people make better players, better teams AND better husbands, parents, and citizens. While we are consumed getting scholarships or earning our respect, we’re missing out on massive opportunities for personal growth and development. As always, the purpose colors the how.
Then you have the “It’s all about having fun” or “We’re all winners” crowd. While I think this philosophy is an attempt to negate the over-the-top approach mentioned previously, I don’t believe it serves young people well either.
Fun is important. Winning is more fun than losing - I’ve tested both sides of this extensively. What we should focus on is establishing where the feeling, or emotion, we call ‘fun’ comes from. At times this is laughing, playing, and having a carefree time with friends. Adults have removed this aspect from youth sports by taking control of organizing, running, and monopolizing youth leagues. This type of fun still thrives if you can find a pickup or backyard game to jump into.
A different perspective on fun that still has the ability to thrive in the current world of youth sports is through fulfillment. People enjoy progress. They like to work hard at something and see improvement. Whether this results in wins or losses matters in the moment but not in the long term. According to Angela Duckworth, renowned researcher and author, grit is the biggest indicator of future success. Youth sports offer a virtually unlimited number of opportunities for grit to be developed.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Failing in public is a scary proposition. One a lot of people shy away from or avoid all together. Here are a few thoughts on fostering the maximum possible growth in your arena.
When there is no place to hide, quickly recovering from minor setbacks are paramount. We put our best foot forward for ourselves, and our team, when we maintain perspective, focus on the response, and define success on our terms.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.