A lesson learned from a student-athlete last school year. These students teach amazing lessons if we're willing to learn!
Jim Rohn said that there is a surprise a day when you work with people. I have the opportunity of getting to work with people all day. Older people, younger people, people from all walks of life, and even some people I don’t necessarily want to work with. I can confirm what he said; everyday gives you something that will make you shake your head. Sometimes from disgust, sometimes in admiration. Either way, he’s right.
Last week, as I was walking to my first period class, I ran into several of our soccer players coming into the school with breakfast items from off campus. Initially, this doesn’t seem like a problem, except for the fact that our campus is a closed campus (students cannot leave during school hours) and they were late coming back. Of course, I asked them questions that didn’t have an answer to justify their situation. We finished the conversation of why it’s not okay, and all headed our separate ways. The next class period, our soccer period, our head coach got into them about not leaving and reinforced the idea of doing what we should be doing.
The thing that surprised me the most about the situation was that a couple of the guys who decided to leave were seniors, and one was a team captain. It’s disappointing to be let down by a guy you feel you can trust with anything. We don’t believe in big mistakes or little mistakes. There are simply mistakes. Because “little” mistakes repeated over a long period of time will undoubtedly lead to failure. So, Jim Rohn was right, there is at least a surprise a day.
The story doesn’t end there. Later that day, our captain who had left, caught up to me in the hallway. He said he would meet me after school to remedy the situation (run ladders, bear crawls, etc.). This was completely unprovoked. Our head coach didn’t ask him to do it, I didn’t ask him to do it, he came to us and requested it. It caught me a bit off guard, but I can’t say I am completely surprised. There is a reason this guy is one of our leaders. This just so happened to be one day before we opened district play. We didn’t want to run his legs out 24 hours before the match, so I simply asked him to write us a one page report on why it is important to follow simple rules. The next day, he brought this to me:
“For something to be effective, especially in a team sport, there has to be a set of rules all the athletes must abide by. Regulations are established to provide guidelines to what is acceptable and what will lead the team to success. When the system is corrupted, or there is a failure to follow simple rules, the team as a whole begins to show signs of impairment. If a person does not show up to practice, team chemistry will not grow. If someone is late to class, they will struggle with the lessons which will ultimately lead to a failing grade and impede them from playing in game. As more and more athletes realize the importance of rules, the team will accordingly grow stronger. Vice Versa, if athletes ignore simple rules, the team slowly deteriorates and becomes ineffective.
Having a set of rules doesn’t mean the team is restricted; on the contrary, having a set of rules keeps the team organized and efficient. Where there are no rules, there is no order. Where there is no order, there is no team. Where there is not team, there is no success. Without success, we will never move forward.”
This is a 17 year old kid who is proving he is making the transition to becoming a man. He accepted responsibility, corrected his wrong, and communicated that he understood why we have rules. There is so much good information in his paper. He didn’t say that if people ignore rules, deterioration comes right away. He said it happens slowly. When we make small bad choices during the day, we rarely see an immediate negative effect. It might not be until weeks, months, or years later that we see the consequences of our actions. A healthy individual today can eat fast food for two weeks straight and still say they look and feel fine. But over two years? Of course not. It’s not our big decisions that typically make or break us, it’s the small everyday decisions that we have to pay most attention to.
I learned a lot from reading his paper. I learned that we can recognize our mistakes right away. I learned that sometimes we can also fix our mistakes right away. I learned that we can learn from somebody else’s mistake so we can avoid doing the same. He titled his paper Simple Leads to Success, and it absolutely fits perfectly. His paper made me ask myself what I could change in my habits. Are there any simple choices I am making every day that are taking me away from my goals? Am I making my day harder than it should be because of a few simple actions? Am I choosing to give some of my days 90% instead of my full 100%? I had to honestly answer yes to all three questions. Sometimes the surprise a day while working with people can set you in the right direction. I challenge you to read what he wrote. Then ask yourself the same questions. Your answers might surprise you.