close the gap
In last week’s newsletter , we talked about the value of creating and maintaining a clear vision for who your son can become, both in sports and in life. We talked about the hope that vision can provide, and how that hope creates a strong belief that won’t allow you to give up, throw in the towel, or walk away when the work gets tough.
But there’s another important benefit to creating and maintaining a clear vision for your son’s future that’s worth discussing today. A vision also clarifies for you the gap that exists between who your son is and who he’s capable of becoming. It clarifies not just that a gap exists, but more importantly, where it exists. It helps you see clearly the areas where he’s deficient, and – if you’re willing to do the work – it highlights for you the specific, purposeful, intentional action you can take to close that gap, and move your son closer to his very best.
We talk regularly here in the newsletter about the talents possessed by the champion athlete. They are the skills and abilities developed by a champion sports parent, one who’s committed to helping his son reach his full potential on the playing field and beyond. These talents are the separators between your boy and those he’ll be competing with and against forever. They are the qualities that define the very best in sports and in life.
I want you to stop and create a vision today - a vision of what your son would look like with each of those talents fully developed. Look back at that list. If you were to evaluate his ability in each area from 1 (terrible) to 10 (incredible), what would he look like as a 10 in each one? I’m talking top-shelf, elite-level, different-from-all-the-rest superstar in each of those specific areas. Let’s start first with his experience in sports. Stop and live in that vision for a minute.
Imagine the opportunities he might have if he was driven by an unwavering, deep-rooted passion for the game. Imagine if absolutely no circumstance kept him from giving his maximum effort at all times. Think if he developed the mental toughness to overcome any possible adversity on the playing field. If he was relentlessly motivated by a genuine desire to get better, and if that genuine desire to improve helped him develop strong, trustworthy relationships with his coaches. If he became the gold standard of a selfless, committed teammate who made everyone around him better. If he was strong and courageous enough to go for it in the big moments, and then handle whatever came after. If he was fueled himself by the positive attitude and powerful belief that comes from a clear vision of his own.
He’d probably have an amazing sports experience, wouldn’t he? Not only in the things he’d accomplish, but in the fun he’d have, too. And believe me, if he was a 10 in each of those areas, he wouldn’t be the only one having fun on game night. You’d be loving the experience, too.
Now, forget about sports – let’s talk about life. Someday soon, his playing days will be over. If you’ve been intentional about developing each of these talents as preparation for the life he’ll be living in manhood, then consider what kind of success might be out there for him then. Consider how prepared the 10-level athlete is to become a 10-level husband. Or a 10-level father. What kind of a friend have you built? What kind of professional? That should be an inspiring picture you’ve got in your mind. It’s your son, the champion in life. If what you’re seeing doesn’t inspire you, then you need a bigger, better, clearer vision.
The reality today, of course, is that your son is not a 10 in those areas. He’s not equipped to play or live like a champion… yet . Hopefully you can identify some areas where he is doing well – areas you’d rank him a 6 or 7 or 8. If he’s strong in an area, then make sure you help him see how important it is to his success. Highlight and celebrate the emerging champion you’re developing.
More importantly, though, you’ve got to decide what you’ll do with his areas of weakness. If you evaluate your son as a 1, 2, or 3 somewhere, then that’s good. It means you’re honestly – and maybe painfully – assessing his current proficiency, or lack thereof. But by seeing clearly who he is and holding it up next to who he can be, you’re clarifying for yourself the gap that exists between the two. The clearer your vision for who he can become, and the more honestly you assess how and where he’s falling short of that vision today, the more accurately you’ll be able to identify how and where he can improve.
And that’s the good news about who your son is in any of these areas – HE CAN IMPROVE. Each of these talents can be taught and learned. They can be developed, cultivated, and refined. If you’re intentional about making it happen, the gap can be closed. In fact, you might be surprised how much better he can get. And you’ll also find that as a sports parent, there are few things more fun than seeing your son grow and improve in an area you know is so important, especially when that improvement's driven by the important work you’re doing in his life.
as a sports parent, there are few things more fun than seeing your son grow and improve in an area you know is so important, especially when that improvement's driven by the important work you’re doing in his life.
Now don’t get me wrong. Closing the gap isn’t quick, easy, or convenient work. Building and developing anything great in life, including the talents of a champion, takes grit – perseverance and passion for this long-term goal. That’s why most people don’t do it. The process will be slow, and sometimes frustrating, but don’t give up. And don’t waste your time comparing him to other kids who may be farther along in some of these areas. Just focus on teaching and developing him today. Find a way to use whatever events or experiences occur in his life to help him get better. And when he does, celebrate it like crazy. Help him see how important his improvement in these areas is to you. Then they’ll start becoming more important to him, too.
Closing the gap is not work for the faint of heart. It's not for the average or the mediocre. It’s the slow, challenging, sometimes painful work that separates the very best from all the rest. Typically it won’t be recognized, applauded, or celebrated. But it is the work it takes to build and develop a champion. If you're interested, I hope you'll get busy today.
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