Wow. I had the best conversation on the way to school today with my kids.
We talk about leadership every. single. morning. Leaders are hard working, kind and inspiring people. Those are the kind of humans we want to raise. So, every single day we discuss leadership.
We talk about what it looks like, how important it is, and how they can be leaders in the classroom, on the playground, on their sports teams and in life.
Someday’s the conversation isn’t as lively as others. A lot of times, I hear things like “I can give compliments, or hold the door open for people, pick up trash even if it isn’t mine, raise my hand in class, smile at people even if I don’t know them (I don’t hear this one lately because of the darn masks), ask someone to play on the playground that is left out.”
All of these are great suggestions and I pray they are things my kids actually put into action on a regular basis. While I am not at school with them, I can’t be sure. But it is my genuine hope that we are literally planting leadership seeds in them for not only the present but the future.
We also talk about characteristics leaders possess. They say things like “confidence, kindness, honesty, hard working, motivated, they care a lot (which is little kid code for passionate).”
I love these conversations and I treasure our 25 minute drive to school each day so that I can hear their voices, get to know them better and they get an opportunity to know me better too! I think it’s fair to say that they know having leadership skills is important to us after all these drives together.
Today…our conversation was about the Chiefs game. I asked them if they noticed what happened when Hardman dropped that punt in the beginning of the game.
They responded…”he came out, threw his helmet and covered his head with his jacket.”
Then I asked if they remember what was happening around him.
Their memory was this…”Yes, Mahomes came over and pulled the jacket off his head and talked to him.”
Then another one of our kids said “And Kelce was over there talking to him and it looked like he was pumping him up.”
Again, another child said “Helaire was over there too talking to him and his coach talked to him too.”
Wow. Our 10, 8 and 5 year old kids saw all of that.
So the conversation continued. I asked “what do you think they were saying to him?”
Their responses varied from:
“They all probably told him it was ok that he made a mistake.” to “Don’t worry, you’ll get the next one.” to “We believe in you.”
My next question was “Why do you think they said things like that to him in that moment?”
Their responses varied from:
“Because they didn’t want him to be sad.” to “They knew they needed him the rest of the game so he couldn’t be hiding under his coat.” to “they were being leaders.”
We then talked about times they’ve made a mistake and how helpful it is for a coach or teammate to pat them on the back and tell them it’s ok. We talked about times their teammates have made mistakes and if they handled that the right way. We also talked about how sometimes all of those aforementioned things happen and it comes down to the individual person (themselves) having to let it go and move on and how that is sometimes hard to do.
Then I asked them, “what happened for Hardman the rest of the game?”
Again, their responses were varied:
“He played awesome.” to “He had a 50 yard return and scored a touchdown.”
Our conversation then turned to how you can make a mistake, even a costly one like a muffed punt return that costs you a touchdown and still come back and make plays. Pouting, crying, making a fuss about a mistake really isn’t helpful at all is it?
BUT, I asked, “How do you think he was able to come back and play so good after a big mistake like that?”
To which they replied, “Because his teammates believed in him and told him he could do it.”
Then another one said “Well he couldn’t make plays if Mahomes hadn’t thrown him the ball and his coach had to trust him to take another punt return.”
YESSSS!! Now they are getting it!
Mahomes, Kelce, Helaire, Hardman and the coaches all taught my kids (and anyone who was paying attention) a few valuable lessons last night.
#1 When you make a mistake…always get up, dust yourself off (or as I like to say, tighten your ponytail) and take another swing or in this case, punt return. So a thank you to Hardman for demonstrating this last night to some super fans who were watching very closely and were really impressed by his ability to bounce back.
#2 When your teammate makes a mistake, a true leader lifts them up. They don’t allow you to hide under your jacket or drop your head in disappointment, they remind you what a boss you are and they motivate you to get up and keep going. So thank you to Kelce and Mahomes for doing that for their teammate. There is no doubt our kids saw that and will try to imitate that behavior in their own lives.
#3 A true leader trusts their players and allows them to make mistakes and shows them they believe in them by giving them another chance. Mahomes (and no doubt the coaches) knew that they needed Hardman to win that game and the even bigger one that follows in a few weeks. Yelling at him or reminding him that he made a huge mistake was non productive. Instead they filled and lifted him up. That was truly awesome to watch happen and our kids even realized it without us having to explain it to them.
#4 Sports can be a beautiful example of how to overcome hardships. While a muffed punt is hardly the end of the world and I can think of many things much worse (cancer for example); for Mecole Hardman in that moment, I’d imagine, his head went to the darkest of places, places like “I just lost the game for my team” kind of places. But instead of hiding under his coat or being scared to get back out there (and he may have been a little scared) he got up with the help and encouragement and trust of his teammates and he made HUGE plays. It was awesome to watch and inspiring on many levels.
I was incredibly impressed by Mahomes’ poise and leadership in that moment. I was in tears as Kelce walked with Hardman off the field and was in his head the whole time. Now, I have no idea what he said, but I could tell it was positive and that his encouragement is largely why Hardman got his head back in the game. That is leadership in action my friends and it was awesome. (I have since seen a video of the whole thing relaying all that was said and my original thought was accurate. They were building him up rather than tearing him down).
Kudos to every parent, coach, teammate that helped forge the path for these athletes, because they are different. They are special. They did something last night that I often don’t see in professional or amateur sports anymore. I pray Mahomes doesn’t change and remains this confident yet humble leader that not only dominates on the field but off it as well. As a mom, an athlete and a coach I am grateful for the example he is setting or my students, players and our children.
A huge thank you to these men for giving me an opportunity to have a real and deep and productive conversation about leadership in action about their game last night. We always tell our own players to “leave their mark.” In other words, make sure people know you played and they respect the way you did it. Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Edwards-Helaire and Mecole Hardman definitely left their mark on our kids (and anyone paying attention) last night. I like to celebr8 awesome and that was pretty darn awesome!