If you follow successful people in sports, it’s likely you’ll hear them talk about embracing “the process.” That’s because real, authentic success in any area – in sports or in life – can’t be achieved in a day. It's true for Michael Jordan and Tom Brady, for Nick Saban and Joe Maddon in each of their pursuits. It’s certainly true for each of us when it comes to raising an athlete and man who reaches his full potential.
We talk regularly here in the newsletter about the process of developing in our kids those talents that define a champion:
*Loving the Game
*Giving His Best
*Being a Teammate
*Having a Positive Attitude
These are the qualities possessed by those who reach their full potential, in sports and in life. They are the separators between who your son is and who can become. They also separate him from others he’ll be competing with and against, on the playing field and beyond, forever. These talents can't be bestowed on your son in an instant or given to him as some sort of one-time gift. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to say one day, “Happy birthday son! This year we got you the ability to overcome adversity. Now it's yours forever...enjoy!” If only it was that easy.
Instead, a talent like overcoming adversity – or any other from the list above – can only be taught, learned, cultivated, and refined through a long, slow process. It's a process that requires a daily commitment to helping your boy take another small step forward on the road to his very best. You might call it a baby step. With the right perspective, you can use whatever he experiences today – good, bad, or ugly – to help him get a little better for tomorrow. This is important work you're doing, and it should provide you with a powerful purpose for being here.
Along the way, your son will try, struggle, and even fail. With your help, he can learn, and then gradually change, grow, and improve for next time. That is the process for a champion sports parent – the reality of the long road to success.
There’s a reason why most parents aren't raising champions. It’s the same reason people fail in their pursuit of success in any area: because trusting, embracing, and enjoying the process is tough. It requires a unique desire, some unique decisions, and a unique level of discipline. We’re living in a myopic world where too often all we see is only what’s right in front of us. Our culture is enamored with instant gratification and immediate judgment. Yes, this short-sighted approach is easier and more convenient. But it discourages the process of growth, improvement, and development required to cultivate the real, authentic talents and lasting success.
I hope you'll be willing to do the hard work necessary to help your son become his very best. It will take time, and you won't be perfect. But if raising a champion is your goal, then that commitment is required. If you need some encouragement today for embracing the process, then maybe you can take heart in knowing you’ve adopted this mindset before in the life of your boy. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter Four of The LENS , aptly entitled “Trusting the Process:”
It won’t be a flawless, straight-line path to mastery, and that’s alright – it never is. That’s the reality of the path we take toward excellence in any area. If you need some encouragement in this area, dad, then maybe realizing that you’ve embraced the process before with positive results might help.
Think back for a second. Do you remember when your son took his first steps? If you’re like me, it may be a foggy, distant memory that you have to work hard to recall. Remember the wobbling, the leaning, the staggering? Remember the crashing, re-setting, and trying again? It was almost like you could see your son figuring it out, little by little, with each new attempt. You cheered his improvement and kept encouraging him to try again. Maybe it took a few days, or a few weeks, but before long he got it, and you were one proud papa.
It was a process no different than developing these talents, or any other ability in your boy. Just like he was back then, your son is learning how to walk in the world, how to move forward on this journey from where he is now toward the potential of who he can become. He doesn’t know what it takes; that’s why you’re here. He will undoubtedly experience some wobbling, some staggering, and some crashing.
When he crashed as a baby, you didn’t judge him. You didn’t say, “This kid stinks! He just doesn’t have what it takes.” You knew he could learn to walk – you trusted and believed in that fact. He just needed time to learn, practice, and improve. You picked him up, dusted him off, and set out to help him get better, one step at a time. You led him until he was able to walk on his own.
That’s the goal here, too. In this world of immediate judgment, it’s easy for any one of us to look at our son in an area of weakness and say, “This kid stinks! He just doesn’t have what it takes.” Instead, we have to take the same approach we did when he was learning to walk.
First, we need to believe that our sons can do it, and that what they really need is time to learn, practice, and improve. Then, like we did back then, we need to pick our boys up, dust them off, and set out to help them get better, one step at a time. We’ve got to lead our boys, on the athletic field and in life, until they are able to walk on their own.
No matter his age or ability level, help your son get better today, tomorrow, and every day after...one baby step at a time!