Monday, November 28, 2016

Beyond the Game - Lessons in Winning and Losing

My youngest son turns seven tomorrow. Nothing melts my heart more than watching and listening to him read at the kitchen table. It is a powerful and moving moment in his development. Tonight is a little different though. Tonight I was provided with a rather simple, yet significant reminder of the importance of both tears and laughter in the process of learning. Let me explain.

Just moments before he was reading in the kitchen, he and I had taken up a heated game of Madden on the gaming system. (Keep in mind I am by no means a "gamer" as I leave that up to the older kids. Yes, I have those also.) Also worth noting is that my youngest picks up on the older siblings talents, traits and their habits almost to a fault. We will leave that to be for now.

To my surprise I quickly found myself in a position to "win" the game with only a minute on the clock. A couple of throws down the sideline, a quick run up the middle and the taste of sweet victory would be mine. I could sense the "W".

Here is where the simplicity gets not-so-simple. I was faced with a decision that any parent has experienced as they raise their young children. And for most of us it is one of the toughest decisions.

Simply: Do I let him win the game?

My decision, and one that came at the expense of learning the hard way with my almost 16 year-old, was answered with one quick pass down the field. And just like that the clock struck "zeros". The tears came almost instantaneously. Not mine of course. Rather his. My response in this moment would be the most important lesson of the night. I could either coach him up (as parents this is what we do) or simply walk away knowing he would eventually pull it together. For me, I chose something somewhat right down the middle. This would become a lesson in winning and losing.

Rowan and I agreed that winning is by far the greater (and more enjoyable) feeling of the two. However, we also talked about losing and that there are some much needed lessons with that as well. What happened over those next few moments was the most important teaching of all. Once the tears had subsided and we had processed how things played out, he soon realized, even at his young age, that there are significant lessons on both sides of the ball. We talked about sportsmanship, being a good competitor and above all else, having a relentless pursuit of working toward success. For him that meant "not quitting".

Hopefully the next time my child is faced with winning versus losing he handles it with his head held a little higher than the time before. He has room to grow and it won't come easy and not overnight. He has years of successes and failures ahead of him. And for that reason alone, we have to let them fail. Remember, if you give it everything you have, you try your best and you play fairly and positively, losing can posses some amazing moments in learning even more than winning itself.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Unity. A Choice.

As part of The Compelled Tribe, we set a challenge this week to our group to write about Unity. We asked the tribe to share through their lens what this looks like and feels like. This is my reflection this week of unity.

It is Monday morning. You walk the halls of your building. You peer into classrooms. You listen to teachers starting their day. You watch as students arrive to school.

Kids are hustling to begin the daily routine. Pencils are sharpened, devices in hand. Teachers are settling in. The smell of coffee consumes the first period classroom.

Smiles come from each corner of the room. Sharing of weekend adventures are spoken across the table, the halls. Laughter is felt, laughter is heard. Chairs shuffle, book bags open.

You are reminded of the great things that happen in your school. This is a space in which teachers can teach and students can learn. Parents are at ease because their children have entered an environment of trust and care. There is warmth. There is comfort.

You are unified. You are one. Pieces move seamlessly. Even though not always perfect, there is direction. There is focus. There is purpose. Your culture speaks loudly.

The day ends. You turn away from your school. Your lens shifts to the world outside of your four walls. Reality sets in. Hurt replaces joy. You sense division, frustration and pain.

Unity needs to prevail.

Even though there is an undeniable divide in the world around us, we need to model the power of coming together. We need to move as one.

I, like so many of you, chose unity. I chose to come together and be a part of the solution, to move forward, to learn and to grow. As leaders and learners we are reminded of the power of unity as we peer into our classrooms within our schools. Let that be the lens of the direction we are headed.

Let us be whole again.