It’s hard to believe it’s that most wonderful time of the year already, but in just a few days Santa will be making his rounds and delivering gifts to be opened on Christmas morning. No matter how old your son is, he’s probably made a wish list of items he hopes will soon be in his possession. Hopefully he’s earned the right – through his thoughts, choices, and actions – to receive everything he wants for himself this holiday season.

I want to challenge you today, as a champion sports parent, to make a wish list of your own this Christmas season, an inventory of those things you hope will soon be in your son’s possession. I also want you to see clearly how you can turn that wish list into reality. Hopefully you’ll earn the right – through your own thoughts, choices, and actions – to see him receive everything you want for him in the coming season of his life.

So as a champion sports parent, what should be on this wish list of yours? Of course if you’re raising an athlete, you might feel like he needs all the “stuff” it appears athletes have these days. The most advanced, high-tech equipment. The newest shoes. The expensive apparel. Absolutely, that stuff may have a place in the life of an athlete, and these may be on your son's wish list for this year. But this isn’t the stuff on the wish list of a champion sports parent. Your son can ask Santa for that stuff if he wants, and if Santa sees fit, he can provide it. But you’ve got a bigger vision in mind.

Instead of filling their wish list with stuff to outfit their boy’s exterior, the champion sports parent is focused on upgrading their boy’s interior. Their list is filled with the mental skills and abilities possessed by a champion, both on the playing field and beyond. They are the qualities that your son will need if he’s really going to reach his full potential, in sports or in life – the talents that will separate him from everyone else. The LENS book is focused on helping you help your son develop these talents of a champion.


Your son might think those things that made his list – the equipment, the shoes, the apparel – will make a difference in who he is or how he plays. But as a champion sports parent, you’ve got to have a clearer perspective. You’ve got to be the one who sees that it’s not really those external possessions that will make him great. It’s what’s inside – his passion, his toughness, his resilience, his mindset. His selflessness, his courage, his attitude – that really make a champion a champion. That’s a reality you have to see and accept first. Then you can help your son see and accept it, too.

It's what's inside that really makes a champion a champion.

Anyone can go buy equipment, or shoes, or apparel as gifts this holiday season, but the talents of a champion can’t be bought. You won’t find them on discount through Amazon or sitting on a special display in the aisle at Dick’s. Imagine if it was that easy. It’s Christmas morning, and your son tears into a gift with his name on it. He opens the box and peers inside. “What is it?” he asks. “It’s resilience!” you excitedly proclaim. “Santa must have known you were gonna need it to be the best athlete, and someday soon, the best man you can be. I bet it’ll go perfectly with the passion and the selflessness you opened earlier. Oh, and there’s a note here from says unfortunately, your courage was back-ordered, so it should be here next week.”

Nope, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t give your son resilience, or passion, or selflessness as some one-time gift. If you could, then I’m sure every parent would do it. But these possessions don't come from a website or a store. They don't come from the magic of some chimney-sliding, sleigh-riding mystery man who shows up once a year. They are only produced through the challenging, everyday work of a committed, intentional champion of a parent.

As that parent, you see that these talents can’t be bought. Instead, they must be taught. They must be modeled, and developed, and cultivated every day. You see that this is a long, slow process that includes your child trying, failing, learning, struggling, and growing in each of these areas. No, these talents can’t be bought, but there will be a significant price to pay. Giving your child these gifts will require your effort and your sacrifice. You’ll have to give more than an average parent if you want to give your child more than an average mindset. And yet, despite all that difficulty, as a champion parent you see that this is some of the most meaningful, most fulfilling work you'll ever do.

So this is my hope for you this Christmas. First, I hope you can find the time to really evaluate the talents your son has, or doesn’t have in this season of his life, and to make a wish list of what you’d like to see him develop. Next, I hope you can see clearly the incredible opportunity you have to use what happens in his life each day, to recognize how you can develop and cultivate in him those areas that will lead to authentic, long-term success in sports and beyond. And finally, I hope you’ll be fueled by the value and importance of this responsibility, and feel the full blessing of the tough but rewarding work it takes to raise a champion.

If you’re willing to do that work, then someday, likely sooner than you think, you’ll probably smile when you consider that wish list you made back at Christmas 2017. When that day comes, you’ll know you earned the right – through your thoughts, choices, and actions – to enjoy all those things your son’s got in his possession. So let’s get to work, and make all those Christmas wishes come true. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!


Subscribe to The LENS Newsletter here.