Last week I had lunch with a friend. As we caught up with one another, he mentioned that his son was involved with sports. I remarked that sports was an excellent way to develop quality traits in a young person: discipline, perseverance, and leadership to name a few.
He nodded in agreement. And then muttered, “the problem, though, is the parents.”
He started to share with me all the horror stories of parents who simply didn’t know better. They yelled at their kids incessantly. They ignored serious injuries while berating their son to “walk it off.” They used their kids as an opportunity to make them feel like a success.
It’s all bad news for the kid.
It made me think a little more about sports and what happens when kids get involved and have parents who don’t comprehend that there are limits to performance.
How does it make a kid feel to give his all to his performance, not make the cut and then on top of it get a lecture from a parent who accuses him of “not wanting it badly enough?”
Think of the long-term ramifications:
The son who grows up and works his tail off to make a million dollars in his startup before he’s 30-years old. When this doesn’t happen, he falls into a deep depression and wonders if his life is worth living.
The daughter who grows up to be a perfectionist, obsessing over every detail of a project until she drives everyone on her team insane, many vowing to find another job elsewhere by the end of the year.
The man who never feels “good enough” and as a result, continues to self-sabotage his own career efforts, choosing jobs that are don’t utilize his potential or relationships where he is mistreated and disrespected.
This happens when a parent, who may mean well, fails to teach his or her children perspective.
My friend did something remarkable with his son.
His son was competing in an archery meet and scored well with some events but not as good in others. He was obviously frustrated with himself and his father noticed.
Instead of trying to push his son toward achievement, my friend did a very wise thing.
He went over to his son and said this: “Son, all you need to do is enjoy yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over this. You’ve done well and you’re giving it every effort you can. Just enjoy the moment and remember that this isn’t everything. It’s just a part of your life.”
His son felt relieved. He geared up for the next event and did better. But what he received was a rare gift from his father.
This is not an easy lesson to teach. Parents can often get caught up with their own hopes and expectations for their children. They end up putting pressure on their children to perform because either they lived with that same pressure from their own parents or they want their children to be a success because it reflects well on them.
So if you have been pressured to perform yet have lost the zest for life, think about that story and how you can give yourself perspective. Think about how you can still give your best effort yet not beat yourself up if you don’t get the desired results.
Remember, enjoying your own personal development and growth is part of the journey. And when you relax and enjoy yourself, you often will get amazing results.
Just breathe, relax… and go for it!