Here’s To Those Who Figured It Out

Parenting and Education allowed me to have a very good life, not necessarily in terms of money (though Education did allow me to make a good, not rich, but good, living), but in terms of being able to work with kids, some who were children in my house, students in my classroom, some who were athletes on teams that I coached, and some were members of both, my children and team groups.

During my time in my home, classrooms, on football fields, baseball and softball fields, and as a clinician, I was pretty direct with those to whom I was speaking. I had high expectations, I wanted to impress upon those listening that it was more important to be a person with character and not be a character.

We tried to get my children, the students, and the athletes to understand that everyone on the team, or in the class was important, but some would do better than others at various things, and that equal grades, and/or playing time, were not guaranteed. We wanted them to know that that was okay, as long as they kept working to the best of their ability.

We tried to impress upon those that integrity came above accomplishments, that attitude was more important than aptitude, that anything and everything you could learn at home, in the classroom, in sports arenas, or on athletic fields, could be looked at as life skills that were foundations for their futures.

We tried to teach that in life you had to be able to take direction, follow rules and procedures, be responsible and accountable, and that there were consequences for actions that were not acceptable. We tried to teach respect for each other, that no one was ever better that anyone else and, hopefully, that they wouldn’t be any worse than anybody else either. We tried to teach respect for other people, be they younger or older, to have respect for authority, for laws, for country, and especially for common decency. We tried to impress upon them to never forget from where they came.

We tried to teach that rewards needed to be earned and not just expected. We tried to teach that no one owed them anything, that everything they wanted to get out of their education and/or athletic experience, and eventually their lives, was up to them.

We tried to impress on them that grades, scholastic honors, playing time, positions, jobs, promotions, etc., were not guaranteed, they were up to each individual themselves. We tried to let them know that pointing the finger of blame was a bad habit to get into, that making excuses was only an obstacle to their focus on achieving their goal, and that their greatest critic should be “the man in the glass,” that person looking back at them from the mirror each day.

In over forty years of doing this, we had students who understood the plan right away. Some, at a very early age came in with that mindset before we even had a chance to tell them these things. Obviously, others had tried to send these messages to them in the early stages of their growing up. Some heard what we were saying and tried (many succeeded) to add what we were passing on to them to their own personal agendas for success.

Some had a hard time right away putting some or all of what we were trying to convey in motion. Some tried to challenge the plan. Some tried to change the plan. Some chose to shut down, walk away, look for those excuses, and place blame on one, or many, around them, rather than look to the aforementioned “man in the glass.”

Some of those who didn’t buy into the plan right away, and others who may not have believed in the plan or understood it at the beginning, seemed to have caught on later in their lives. It maybe became clear to them when they got out into the real world, maybe when they had children of their own, maybe when they got into the world of employment, or maybe when they became a teacher, or a coach, themselves.

I know in my case I didn’t always buy into the plan my parents laid out for me. It’s not that I didn’t understand it, I just didn’t like it. When I got into my second year of college, I began to realize just how smart my parents were and I began to pave my way toward my future, and even after that it took me more years to grow up and implement it.

I know that some probably didn’t like the plan we had laid out for them in our time spent together, but I can honestly say that some definitely understood it better, or realized what we were trying to do, a bit later in their lives, as evidenced by a phone call, or text, or Facebook message, sent to me long after our time together, saying that they get it now.

It is not easy being a parent. There is no manual on how to do it, or what’s right or wrong in raising children. Despite those books on child rearing you read on the shelves in bookstores (are there really any bookstores left today?), it’s a gut thing. You go with your gut, and you hope for the best. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but that’s part of being a parent. There will be regrets after doing something, wishing you did it a different way, but that’s afterthought. Wouldn’t we all want to have a crystal ball to see dangers, or pitfalls, or results for our children before they happen? I know I would have liked one, but life is a now thing. You make decisions based on now, without the aid of futuristic devices. So, we try to make a plan for how we raise our children. That same philosophy applies to being a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a counselor, a trainer, an employer, a clinician, and any other situation you are in where you are in charge of others.

So, here’s to those who did, or have, figured out the plan, whenever it came to you, maybe right as someone implemented it with you way back when, or any number of years later, and who understand not just the “what” part of the plan, but more importantly, the “why” for the plan. And here’s to you who are in situations where you have to come up with a plan (or many) or others in the situations you undertake in this life. Always remember for yourselves, and for those whom you raise, teach, coach, or mentor, let the motto of each of your plans for those whom you lead be, (and impress upon them to make it their motto too), “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Those who presented a plan to you, can’t make you take it, or execute it. Only you can do that. It’s just another part of the plan you need to explain. Good luck!


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