• Laura Neuman

True achievers measure success against themselves, not against others

When my husband and I had children, we decided we would encourage them to play sports. Paul is an avid sports guy while I am more the adventurous spirit, I like to try new activities. We haven’t agreed on everything in marriage but we do agree our children should be active. 

Over the years, they’ve tried just about every sport. Our son prefers team sports so hockey became an early favorite. This year in hockey has been a tough one, though. 

After nine years of playing, he wanted to be captain of his team but wasn’t selected. The team has never really coalesced and he’s a newer player in this club, after changing programs a few years ago. The players who were selected have played together for many years and, while I don’t agree with how the process was conducted, I’m not the volunteer coach so I don’t get to decide. Besides, all the kids are good kids.

 At the same time our son was going for this leadership opportunity on his team, he set a new goal for himself in school. For the first time, he really wanted straight A’s. That’s a big jump for our earlier C student but he’s worked hard the last few years to improve his grades and he finally managed to get it done.

 After being passed over for captain or co-captain, his game lacked the level of enthusiasm we were used to seeing. He’d start off strong but if they were up against a tough team, our former high-scorer just ran out of steam. It would have been easy to overlook, considering the impressive schoolwork and the fact that the team wasn’t really coming together. Instead, we asked him to reconsider how hard he was working.

During his busiest time, in the middle of exams, we told him it didn’t matter what was happening on the team, and whether they would win or lose, he has a personal obligation to give it 100% every time. He made a commitment but, more importantly, he would feel better at the end of each game if he had given it his all. In the end, he can’t control his team or how others lead, but he can control how he leads himself. At the same time we were reassuring him that he can handle anything, we were also gently pushing him to do more. 

After getting off the ice last night, and putting our advice to work, he felt great! He skated hard and kept up his endurance; he finally had a breakthrough and reached his internal goal of finishing strong even though the goal he initially set out to achieve was still beyond his grasp. The team was mercied and lost 2-12 but, boy, was he happy. 

If your goal seems out of reach, maybe finishing strong just for today will feel like an accomplishment as you continue to work toward it.

Is there something you can do today that will give you the satisfaction of feeling like you gave it your all? What can you do every day as you work toward your goals?



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