Check out last week's blog here about being a student and a teacher in this life.
Earlier this summer my son Chase was complaining about soccer practice. He loved his games, but never wanted to go to practice. I told him that if he didn’t go to practice, he wouldn’t be allowed to play in his games. I actually kind of empathized with him. I didn’t particularly like going to his practices either. Games were much more fun.
This got me thinking:
“How we practice is how we play. Practice pays off when we get in the game.”
My son Blake struggled with reading in elementary school. He’s made great strides and put in a lot of hard work. I tell him all the time, when he is struggling or just simply doesn’t want to read,
“Hard work pays off.”
We are at the point where I just say, “hard work” and he says, “pays off”.
He earned a stellar report card at the end of the year. He looked at me and beamed, “hard work pays off.” It was such a proud moment for us both.
Life is a lot of hard work. That’s the truth. Sometimes when I look around I feel like I’m seeing highlight reels of everyone else’s lives. And then I look at my own and it doesn’t look so pretty.
It’s a lot of late nights and early mornings.
Trials, errors, failures, and negative self-talk.
Followed by a pep talk, trying again, this time something different.
With no guarantee that it will work. But we keep trying.
Some days we take a day off from trying. Because nothing feels right.
This trying, these trial and errors take courage.
Courage to get up and try again.
Courage to begin. Maybe again.
Courage might even be setting an alarm for an early workout after a long day.
All the little pieces of courage, all the “I will try’s” add up. What we practice is never wasted.
My oldest son Ethan went to this magnificent preschool for three years. He had a magical teacher named Mrs. Lightcap. She taught the kids so many life skills. One of them was to say, “I will try”. They were not allowed to say, “I can’t”. Ethan took this to heart. A lot of things were hard for him. And each time he would say out loud, “I will try”. I bet he said those words hundreds of times in his short seven years. Those words always took courage to say, because they did not guarantee success. They just signaled a willingness to give it a go.
I noticed that Ethan’s eyes lit up every time he said, “I will try”. He truly relished in the trying. I always felt so inspired by him. He pushed me to try harder and to do better. I have to admit that prior to his death I always thought hard work would pay off in the way I wanted it to. Now I know that is not true.
I know now that what matters isn’t the end game, isn’t the win or loss, it’s how we play the game. And if we don’t practice, if we don’t’ get out there and give it a go, we’ll never play the game well.
So, what’s my advice this week?
I don’t have five or ten points for you like I’ve had in past weeks. This week I’m here to tell you to practice and practice hard. Whatever you are working on. Don’t give up. Keep practicing so when it comes time for the game, you will play well.
Teach your kids to say, “I will try”. Take “I can’t” out of their vocabulary. Take it out of yours.
Commit to the early mornings and the late nights. Hold tight, hold fast to your dreams. To that one thing, or ten, that you really desire.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
I promise you will have a chance to get in the game.
And when you do, you will show your kids that hard work really does pay off.
Next week: The gifts we get when life doesn’t go the way we want.