what's left behind


As people discover that I wrote a book, there are a couple questions that usually come up pretty quickly:

Question #1: What is the book about?

Answer: I answered this question in last week’s newsletter, but in case you missed it, you can read about the book here .

Question #2: Why did you write it?

Answer: There are actually a few different answers to this question. One reason I wroteThe LENS was to clarify for myself, as my kids became athletes of their own, who I wanted to be as a sports dad. I believe sports provide the greatest opportunity our kids will ever have to develop the qualities that a successful life demands, and I knew that without a game plan, I’d probably fail to make this unique opportunity all it’s meant to be. Secondly, I wrote in the hope that sharing my research and experience will impact your lifein a positive way, and that the book helps you see clearly your great opportunity as a sports parent, too. Finally – the reason I want to focus on in today’s newsletter – is that I really wanted to be intentional about what I left behind for my kids. I hope I can encourage you today to consider how you might do the same.

I believe that as a parent, each one of us has the chance to leave a powerful legacy that will echo through the hearts and minds of our children forever. There will be some great opportunities to leave that legacy – some big, monumental moments where you’ll have the chance to say or do something really powerful – moments that’ll be remembered forever in the headlines of your parenting story. I hope you’ll take advantage of those moments when they come. But in reality, your legacy will probably be determined less by those "headline moments" and more by the ones found in the fine print. 

The fine print moments are the small, typically unnoticed, and seemingly insignificant choices that the champion parent makes each day – the small sacrifices you’re committed to for the benefit of your child. For your son the emerging athlete, maybe it’s the sacrifice you make – after a long day on the job – to play catch in the backyard, rebound for him in the driveway, or stay late after practice to get some extra work in. For your son the emerging man, maybe it’s helping him with his homework, encouraging him through the adversity in his life, or praying for him before bed. These small, daily commitments you make in the life of your boy will end up becoming the powerful echo that’s left behind someday when you’re gone, and if your child ends up a champion either on the playing field or in life, the story you’ve written in the fine print will probably be an important reason why.

No doubt about it, our words and our actions will be an important part of our legacy…but so will our writing. I want you to see clearly today that our written words – yours, just like mine – will be a part of what’s left behind. You may not have written a book, and you may not have any plans to in the future, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer. In fact, now days, in the social media era – between all the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts it’s likely you’ve composed – you’ve probably already written a book, or at least the equivalent of one. And just like my kids will be able to pick up my book and read the words I’ve written, so too will your son be able to look back through the archive of your writing and hear from you for all eternity. Even if you aren't writing specifically to him today, he may be the one reading it someday. When we’re long gone, the things we’ve said or done may fade from the memory of our kids, and even though it may seem like fine print, what we’ve written will still be there in black and white, serving as our voice forever.

So I’d ask you to consider what you choose to leave behind today. I hope you’ll be a champion sports parent in all that you say and do, but I hope you’ll also consider how you can archive the work of a champion in your writing, too. Does that mean it’s time for you to write a book? Well, yes! If there’s a book you’ve been thinking about writing, then I’d tell you now’s the time. But even if you’re not writing a book, that’s okay. Your writing career doesn't have to make the headlines. It can be just as effective in the fine print - maybe like writing a letter, inscribing a book, or posting those inspiring thoughts and ideas to social media.

I hope you’ll record words of life and encouragement to leave behind. As you may have noticed, we’re living in a time where finding encouragement – what’s good, what’s positive, and what’s hopeful – can be tough. It’s easier to complain about all that’s wrong or be victimized by all the unfairness around us. Most people would rather spend their time hating, or criticizing, or dividing. In fact, choosing to write that stuff would be the easy choice for any of us today.

But you need to see that someday, when you’re long gone, the words you’ve chosen to write will serve as the evidence of who you were and what you valued. If you’re committed to raising a champion athlete and man, then I hope you understand and accept the important role you play as his teacher and developer. Your job today is to cultivate in him what it takes to become his very best, on the playing field and in life. Hopefully you see that his improvement – his learning, growing, striving, and developing – never ends. 

So when he decides someday to dig in to some research on who you were and what you thought really mattered, he’ll be learning from you then, too. The archives of your writing can confirm for him the valuable lessons you taught him as a champion athlete – lessons on giving his best, or overcoming adversity, or seeking improvement, or being a teammate, or having a positive attitude, just to name a few. They can fill him up, encourage him, and verify your love for him. Or that fine print can uncover for him a different truth – that you settled for the easier, uglier route as a writer. And if that’s the case, you may be encouraging him to settle for easier and uglier, too.

Choosing to be a champion sports parent means choosing not to be a blamer or a complainer, a criticizer, a hater, or a divider. Not in the words you speak, not in the actions you take, and not in the words you write into the life of your son today or the archives of your personal history, either. Instead, be a champion writer, in whatever way you choose to write - even the fine print. It’ll positively impact your world today, and who knows? Maybe it’ll be exactly the message your son needs to hear from you someday, many years from now when you’re long gone, and that’s all that’s left behind.