an inconvenient truth
Few things seem to be valued more in our culture today than convenience. You may even hear it referred to as a “microwave society.” We’ve come to expect that the things we want we’ll be able to get quickly and easily, and anything that doesn’t come quickly or easily these days is often labeled as flawed, obsolete, or worthless. But I want you to see clearly today that in some areas of life – especially if we’re talking about developing champion people – it’s not the level of convenience that determines the quality of the product. In fact, it’s actually just the opposite.
The moments that actually determine who someone becomes, in any area of life, is more likely determined by their approach to what’s inconvenient. The truth is, the level to which they're willing to be inconvenienced is directly proportional to their level of care, their level of commitment, and their level of excellence. Ultimately, for any of us, that determines who we become. Anyone can be great when things are convenient – when it’s quick and easy. It’s when things are inconvenient that you really start to see what separates the champion from everyone else.
Take your son, the athlete, for instance. No matter his age or ability level, I’m sure you hope he'll be successful, both in striving to reach his own potential and in competition with others. So what will determine whether or not those hopes become a reality? Will they be determined by what he chooses to do in his moments of convenience? Of course not. Everyone will choose well then, and your son will too – when he feels good and he’s gotten plenty of sleep. When there’s nothing else in life to give his time or attention to. When circumstances line up in his favor and everything’s going right. Any athlete can be great when things are convenient.
Instead, whether or not your son becomes a champion athlete will more likely be determined by the level to which he’s willing to be inconvenienced. Will he be willing to do the necessary work when he doesn’t feel good, or when he hasn’t gotten enough sleep? When he’s got other things vying for his time, tempting him to blow off today’s work and take a well deserved break instead? Or when the circumstances of life seem to have turned against him, and nothing in the world is going right? Those are the times that will ultimately determine who your son becomes. The ordinary athlete will do the work when things are quick and easy, but the ordinary athlete hates to be inconvenienced. That’s where the champion separates himself. It's what makes him extraordinary. It’s where his level of care, his level of commitment, and his level of excellence are most evidently seen.
The same is true, of course, for the champion sports parent. I want to challenge you today to be great in this role, and not just when it’s convenient. It’s no different for us, working to raise a champion athlete and man, than it is in any other area: any sports parent can be great when it’s convenient. Everyone chooses well then – when they feel good and they’ve gotten plenty of sleep. When there’s nothing else in life to give their time or energy to, or when circumstances line up in their favor and everything’s going right. It’s easy to go throw in the backyard, or rebound in the driveway, or stay late for extra practice when it’s convenient. When it's easy, everyone will show up early, have a great attitude, and work to help their son get better. As they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
But being a champion sports parent isn’t easy because being a champion sports parent is rarely convenient. The champion sports parent separates himself from the rest by a unique willingness to be inconvenienced. He’s throwing in the backyard, rebounding in the driveway, or staying late for extra practice today even though he doesn’t feel good or hasn’t gotten enough sleep. He’s showing up early and having a great attitude even though there are a million other things – with work, with money, with relationships, you name it – that he’s required to give his time and energy to. He’s working tirelessly to help his son get better today even though the circumstances of life seem to have turned against him, and it feels like nothing in the world is going right. This champion sports parent has separated himself from the rest, and it’s in these moments that his level of care, his level of commitment, and his level of excellence are most evidently seen.
I don’t know what it is that will inconvenience you today, but I’m sure there’s something. It’ll probably be another long day. You’ll be tired and maybe frustrated, and a part of you will be begging just to take it easy. You’ll have every right to do just that, and most people in your position probably will. But today, I don’t want you to be ordinary. Instead, I hope you'll choose to be extraordinary. I hope you'll choose to be a champion, one who’s accepted for yourself and who’s helping to live out for your son an important, yet rather inconvenient truth: that while those who are ordinary say “sorry, not today,” the champion says “I’m on my way.”