you & your son, the idiots
Raising a champion, in sports or in life, is all about embracing a process of growth and development. It’s about using your son’s experiences today to build, prepare, and equip him in the important areas he’ll need for tomorrow. It's about focusing on the opportunities that exist in his present without abandoning your plan for his future. If you’re serious about helping him reach his full potential as an athlete and a man, then there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. That’s why you’re here.
As a champion sports parent, creating and maintaining a clear vision for who your son can become – of what his full potential looks like – is a necessary part of the job. That vision is crucial to your success for many reasons. First, it helps to clarify the gap that exists between who your son is now and who he’s capable of becoming. And not just that a gap exists, but more importantly, where it exists. It helps you see clearly where he’s deficient, and it moves you into action to close that gap.
A clear vision for who your son can become also gives you hope. When it comes to the long, slow, and sometimes painful process of growing or developing anything great in life – including growing or developing a champion son – hope is required. Now don’t get me wrong; hope alone isn’t enough. There must be action taken, too. But without the hope that comes from a clear vision for what’s possible, action is futile.
That’s because hope, coupled with purposeful action, creates a powerful belief that just flat-out refuses to let your dreams die, regardless of the circumstances. Achieving greatness in any area demands that challenges be faced, doubts conquered, and adversity overcome. Typically, it’s in these difficult moments that those without a clear vision decide give up, throw in the towel, or walk away. “It can’t be done,” the weak-minded hopelessly say. “And you’re an idiot for believing otherwise.”
But if you’re a champion, what you see is different. It won’t be quick, easy, or convenient work, but it can be done. If you maintain that clear vision of success, and then use it each day to close the gap on your dream, then you can become a champion in any area of life, including in the work you're doing to raise a champion of your own. Your vision won't let you quit.
Helping your son reach his full potential will require that you help him see for himself the power of a clear vision, too. That’s because for a successful athlete, that same hope is required. Hope alone isn’t enough in sports, of course. We said it already – action must be taken, too. But hope, coupled with purposeful action, creates that powerful belief that just flat-out refuses to let an athlete’s dream die, regardless of the circumstances. Achieving greatness in sports will demand that challenges be faced, doubts conquered, and adversity overcome. When things get tough, too many athletes give up, throw in the towel, or walk away. “It can’t be done,” they hopelessly say. “And you’re an idiot for believing otherwise.”
But I want you to see today that sometimes, in sports and in life, there's value in being labeled an idiot. The 2004 Boston Red Sox are a great example for all of us, including our kids, about what's possible when a vision just won't die. That season, the Red Sox pulled off what most believe to be the greatest comeback in the history of sports then they overcame a 0-3 games deficit to defeat their arch-rival, the New York Yankees, in the best of seven American League Championship Series. Down a run and facing unhittable Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of game four, the Red Sox were on the verge of being swept. Decades of Boston’s playoff letdowns, along with historically insurmountable odds (26 teams had fallen behind 0-3 in the history of playoff baseball; none had come back to win the series before), seemed to confirm that the final nail in the Red Sox coffin was about to be hammered home.
But Boston’s team was made up of a unique collection of self-proclaimed idiots. Despite the seemingly hopeless odds and probably at least some because of their idiot nature, the Red Sox refused to let their vision die.
The odds of scoring on Rivera, with an all-time postseason record ERA of 0.70, were nearly impossible. But an unlikely walk led to a clutch stolen base, and a big base-hit later, somehow, the score was tied. Winning the game, let alone the series, still seemed preposterous to most, but the Red Sox kept playing, and kept believing. A few innings later, when David Ortiz hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, the Red Sox won. Though they were still down three games to one, Boston’s confidence, hope, and belief strengthened. Their vision grew.
The more the Red Sox won, the more their fans and the rest of the sports world believed the impossible could in fact be possible. But how much resolve did it take for the men in that dugout to maintain their hope in the ninth inning of game four, as that final nail was about to be driven home? No one would have blamed them for giving up; most people would have. The Red Sox didn’t, though, and instead made history.
How many other athletes or other teams, in other situations throughout history, could’ve kept believing, would’ve somehow found a way, and should’ve also made history if they’d just been able to maintain that vision?
Maybe more importantly, if – or more likely, when – that opportunity comes someday in the life of your son, who will you have encouraged him to become? The guy who, despite maybe looking like an idiot, refused to give up on the hope that a comeback requires? The guy who, despite all the odds, made history? Or will your son be the guy who looks back on his missed opportunities and realize he coulda, woulda, and shoulda done it differently?
Maybe more importantly, if – or more likely, when – that opportunity comes someday in the life of your son, who will you have encouraged him to become?
As is always the case for a sports parent, what you choose to emphasize is what your son will learn to value. I want to encourage you today, if you haven’t already, to create a vision for who your son can become – see clearly what his full potential looks like. Next, get to work on closing the gap between where he is today and where he’s capable of going. And lastly, I want to encourage you to set a powerful example for your son by living with an unbridled hope in your own life, and helping him do the same. Of course, you’ve got to put in the work, too, but regardless of the circumstances, never let your dreams die easily – and don’t let his, either. Always play it out to the final buzzer, no matter what.
You and your son – idiots there, together – will be glad you did.
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