Corona Virus Quarantine Day #119: Be great. July 18, 2020:
I feel like in the last few months I have read more than ever before. I’ve read with our children, I’ve read to improve at my vocation, I’ve read for leisure, I’ve read about the corona virus, I’ve read about the history of race relations…I’ve read a lot!
I’m so grateful. In a normal world I don’t read much other than my students papers. I study film to prepare for teams we are about to face, but reading for leisure, it’s not a thing in normal times.
I just started a book by Joshua Medcalf called “Chop Wood, Carry Water” and I’m not even 30 pages in and I’m hooked.
This is a book to get better at my craft…leading, coaching. Each week we’ve been hosting leadership summits with the girls in our program. They’ve been very fruitful and if one good thing has come out of Covid it’s that we’ve gotten to know the girls in a way that we wouldn’t have had time for if we could be in a gym practicing.
We’ve discussed topics of leadership, work ethic, attitude, confidence and most recently we’ve discussed race.
As I was reading today one line stood out to me and I wanted to write about it and relate it to an experience I had today.
Medcalf writes, “everyone wants to be great, until it’s time to do what greatness requires.”
This is everything. As a coach, I cannot tell you how true this is. As a parent, I cannot tell you how true this is. As an athlete, I cannot tell you how true this is.
Greatness is hard. It means sometimes you have to look in the mirror and know that you didn’t do enough and that you had more in the tank and you just let it sit in there. Sometimes it means you have to admit someone else is better than you and that you could learn from them. It can also mean that others want to tear you down because of your greatness. All of these things are challenging.
As a parent our job is to raise caring, kind, thoughtful, faith-filled human beings that go out into the world and dispense greatness into it. Bryan and I make a conscious effort to help our kids learn all the important life lessons and working hard to achieve your goals is among those.
Today the kids were playing in the barn, per usual, and afterwards, at lunch, Bryan engaged them in a conversation.
He asked them first what they thought their strengths were in sports (since they had just come in from hours of playing said sports). Each one answered differently. For example, Finley said he is good at shooting (true), Cooper said he doesn’t get tired (also true), Ellen said she is very competitive (super true), Fiona said she was aggressive (totally true). Then Bryan told them that while all those things are true he cared more about what traits they had that made them good at things like shooting.
Can I say that I really wish I recorded this conversation? It was priceless and demonstrated the genius in Bryan’s coaching style (in this case parenting) that makes him so successful in building relationships with all those he encounters.
I don’t remember verbatim how each kid answered but they said things like “I work really hard,” “I care a lot” and “I have fun while I play.” All of these things are true about our children. Each one of them has a specific strength that the others may not share and they can all learn from each other.
Then the real magic happened. Bryan asked them what character traits they admired in one of their siblings and they had to say who and what it was.
It was pretty incredible to see their faces light up when they acknowledged the strengths in each other publicly, out loud. Whether they had any clue it was happening or not it was pretty darn powerful and amazing to sit back and watch. They complimented their siblings by saying things like “I would like to work as hard as Finley” (this kid plays basketball on average 4 hours a day), “I would like to have as much energy as Cooper when I play,” “I would like to be as competitive and care as much as Ellen.”
Bryan and I haven’t talked about this little exercise yet, I wanted to write my thoughts down first…but it was truly incredible and I never want to forget it. In this short exchange I saw my kids describe their strengths, admit to something they need to work on and build up the confidence of their siblings.
Oh man, it was cool. These are the type of things we try to do with our teams as well so I’ve seen them work at that level but…it’s just so wild how even three 10 year olds, an 8 year old and a 5 year old (sort of…he just kept saying how he wanted to be as good as Michael Jordan) could participate in a conversation like this and get so much out of it.
My new book goes on to explain that greatness isn’t sexy. “It’s dirty, hard work, usually required to be done in the dark, when no one is watching, while your dreams are so far off they feel like fairytales.”
Also. So. True.
A lot of the hard work we do as parents, employees, spouses or athletes goes unnoticed. It’s not observed by others…but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t make it any less necessary or important. That’s a lesson I want my kids to have in life. Work hard, do the right thing…always…REGARDLESS of who is watching.
In reality, for our kids, their dreams are super far off. They want to play competitive sports. They want to win state titles for St. James. They want to play in college. I’m sure some people reading this may be thinking we put those ideas in their heads, and maybe subconsciously we did. But we both make a conscious effort to not put any pressure on our kids to play sports just because we did and because they are still a part of our life. Our kids are growing up surrounded by people who play and love sports and who are incredible mentors for them in all they do…they are so blessed. From their parents and grandparents, to their aunts and uncles, to their cousins, to their friends, to our players and all of our alum that remain a part of our lives. It’s engrained in them.
No one makes Finley and Cooper go to the barn right after they eat, do dishes and brush their teeth. They do that because they want to be great. No one forces the girls to play volleyball. They ask, I play…and in the past 4 months they have both gotten so much better it’s silly. They want to be great.
Medcalf finishes that chapter by saying
Be ridiculously faithful.
Focus on what you can control.
I love everything about this. I want our kids and all the kids I coach to dream BIG. I want them to know that in order to achieve big and great things they have to do the million little things when no one is watching. Those things are what design greatness. I want my kids to be “ridiculously faithful” to our LORD, to their family and to each other. And…if Covid hasn’t shoved this one down our throat…I want our kids to focus on what they can control. Holy moly that is hard to do. Finley may never be as fast as Cooper but he can learn from the joy he has when he’s playing. Cooper doesn’t stress it, he just plays as hard as he can and he makes others around him better because of it. Cooper can learn from Finley’s insane work ethic. I’ve seriously never seen anything like it. Finley cares so darn much. These two are such a great asset to each other, they may not know it yet, but today, they grew in understanding of each other and it was awesome. Fiona and Ellen’s story is still playing out. They challenge each other in different ways. Fiona has such GOD given talents. Things come very easy to her. Ellen is a work horse and so competitive. If she isn’t as talented she will grind her way through it and find a way to beat you. Fiona wants her big sister to acknowledge her greatness and Ellen will have no bigger fan than Fiona. Ellen will go to war for her baby sister without a doubt but she needs to work on being Fiona’s cheerleader and mentor. That’s hard work at 10. And then there is Fletcher…he has more charisma than anyone I know. He’s really just now getting into sports. I’m excited to see what this boy will do with the example of his older siblings. They all have so much they can learn from each other. These lessons apply to every facet of life as well, not just sports.
No matter how their stories play out…I know above all else, the most important thing we can do for them or anyone we encounter is to push them towards greatness in all that they do. Dream BIG, start small, be ridiculously faithful and focus on what you can control…yeah, I can do that!
Strangely, this is the only picture I took today…but appropriate because this is the largest zucchini ever to grace the Dorsey household. Legit half the size of Fletchy.