A strong foundation
It’s common knowledge that a house is only as strong as the foundation on which it's built. Without that strong foundation, everything else about a house becomes obsolete. You can build a home with incredible curb appeal, a ton of square footage, and every luxury known to man. But if it’s weak in the areas that matter the most – even if those areas aren’t always evident to the casual observer – then that house will never be what it's meant to be.
In many ways, the same can be said for your son. You may not be a home builder, but if you’re working to raise a champion athlete and man in this world, then you are in the development business. And just like a strong foundation is required for any home to reach its full potential, so too will it be required of your son.
So what makes up the strong foundation for an athlete and man who reaches his full potential? We talk regularly here in the newsletter about the talents possessed by the champion in sports and in life.
*Loving the Game
*Giving His Best
*Being a Teammate
*Having a Positive Attitude
These are the talents that represent the strong foundation on which your son will build a successful athletic career, and eventually, a successful life. And no one has a greater opportunity – or a greater responsibility – to teach, cultivate, and develop them in his life than you. You are his developer.
Just like the foundation (or lack thereof) of a home, the mental talents (or lack thereof) of a champion may not be noticeable to the naked or untrained eye. They're hidden, unlike most of the physical talents and attributes that can be easily recognized just by a casual glance. How big or strong your son is, how high he can jump, how fast he is, or how skilled he is in his sport are obvious when he steps on the field or court. Those things you might call his curb appeal – they're easy for everyone to see.
But in reality, what people can see from him on the outside only matters if he’s been built with a strong and sturdy foundation on the inside – that is, if he’s developed those talents required of a champion. Your boy can look the part to a casual observer. Many athletes do that – they look the part. They have elite size or strength, elite physical skill or ability, or elite equipment or training. If those guys were houses, they'd probably look like mansions.
If this is your situation – if you see that your son has a palace worth of potential, then you have a great responsibility. You’ve probably made a major investment in all those curb appeal areas, and that’s a good thing; your son can’t become his best without possessing all those things everyone can see. But you better be just as committed to strengthening and solidifying those things they can’t see, too. The weight and burden of his opportunity will demand it. When it gets real, just looking the part won't be enough.
If you’re like most sports parents in the world, then your son probably doesn’t possess the elite level size, skill, equipment, or training of some others. That’s okay. There’s encouragement for you today, too. After all, not every house is a mansion. If your son has less curb appeal than some of those around him, you still have a great opportunity to help him become a champion by strengthening his foundation. If you're committed to using the events and experiences in his life today, you can help make him stronger in the areas that may not be as evident to the casual observer, but are actually so important to his success. And stronger, too, than some of the bigger houses around him.
At a glance, your son’s house might not look as impressive as some others on the block. But you might find that competition has a way of exposing what can't be seen on the outside. Those big, beautiful buildings may look good, but without true strength and foundational toughness, they will crack, cave, and crumble to the ground. I can guarantee you’d be one proud parent if at the end of the contest – as the dust settles – your small, simple structure of a boy is the one standing strong, amidst the rubble of all those mansions that have collapsed around him. It can happen, but only if he's been built, and developed, and prepared where it really matters.
Recognize clearly the opportunities you have to build your son’s mental toughness. Teach him this important reality of sports and life – that just looking the part isn’t enough. Strengthen him in the areas where it really matters today by helping him love the game, give his best, overcome adversity, seek improvement, get coached, be a teammate, take risks, and have a positive attitude. If you do, you’ll find in time that your work as a developer has built a strong, sturdy champion of an athlete and a man.