Seeking the Challenge

Everyone wants the “perfect” season … but we might not agree on what a perfect season looks like.

My perfect season is one where we lose some tough matches.  The perfect season has quite a few practices that don’t go smoothly, and we struggle to reach our goal in challenging drills.  My perfect season also has some parent meetings with challenging questions, inconveniences in travel, and some interpersonal difficulties and growth that force us to work as a team.

If we have a “perfect season,” where every practice and game goes our way, then we’ve made practices too easy and we’ve scheduled below our potential.  As Tom Hirshfield noted, “If you hit the target every time then it is either too near or too big.”

Seth Godin in his latest blog post reminds us how we learn to ride a bike: “Actually, by not doing it. You learn by doing it wrong, by falling off, by getting back on, by doing it again.”  How unreasonable it would be to expect our child to learn how to ride a bike without falling, and how ridiculous it would be to expect a season to be without challenges.

Improvement is inextricable from challenges.  You don’t ride the rainbow to the pot of gold – it’s at the end of a long, tiring journey.  The reason why learning to ride a bike is so memorable for both the child and parent is precisely because it’s difficult, scary and frustrating.

We want our players, coaches and parents to demonstrate a positive response to adversity.  Yet, we forget that the response is always better when we have sought the challenge, rather than feeling that a difficulty has been thrust upon us.  If parents gave up on teaching their child to ride a bike the first time they fell off, Schwinn would have been out of business years ago.

Instead of team goals that only include the positive, consider including the reality that your team is likely to lose some matches and have bad practices.  Be excited about the opportunity to challenge your team to the extent that you might have to work through team dynamics and explain processes to parents.  Be willing to be patient and steadfast through the challenge.

It’s the challenge that makes the journey and the destination better, richer, and more fulfilling.

The only thing better than finishing a drill, is getting to a goal that your team didn’t feel they could reach.

The only thing better than beating a team, is defeating a team that you couldn’t figure out in the beginning of the season.

The only thing better than getting a high grade on a test, is acing an exam in the class where you’ve had difficulty mastering the material.

The only thing better than seeing your child or player succeed, is seeing them be successful in something that they just couldn’t do earlier.

Seek the challenge.

-Jason Curtis

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