Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed, champion table tennis player and commentator for the BBC, argues the latter. He says that athletes are made, not born. Through purposeful practice, athletes can master skills to the point they are automatic, just as using a pencil or driving a car. As part of this learning, athletes must be willing to embrace mistakes, and coaches must recognize players for their effort and progress, not what talent they perceive the player as having. The same approach can also be used to produce superior artists, executives, and professionals. Read more »
If you have some time, read Mike Rowe’s form letter to Eagle Scout recipients. More importantly, read his reply to a Scout and ensuing discussion on his forum. They offer plenty to think about. As an Eagle Scout (who also earned it in 1977), I also have a few thoughts his issues about earning awards and falling into mediocrity.
I agree with Mike: The Eagle Scout award comes with no magic power or influence. Neither do college degrees. In medicine and law, a degree from a prestigious university does make a person more marketable. For most fields, most employers look at your career record more than where you went to school. What matters is the effort you put into earning those distinctions. Your work ethic and dedication are what impress people, not just a medal or diploma.
This is why I don’t see how one can be mediocre and earn an Eagle Scout. To me, as it does for Mike, mediocrity comes from apathy. It’s when you don’t care about the quality of your work. You go through the motions and do the minimum that’s expected of you. You take the easiest and safest route because putting in the extra effort makes you too vulnerable. You can’t do that and earn an Eagle Scout. You have to be willing to learn new skills, become a leader, and exercise patience as you wait the required time before you can advance. To earn my Eagle Scout, I had to learn how to swim, overcome my shyness, endure a stretch with a Scoutmaster who favored his kids at the expense of everyone else, as well as go through my parents’ divorce. My path towards Eagle wasn’t for the apathetic or the lazy. I’m sure it isn’t for any other Scout.
Bad calls and unlucky breaks don’t just happen in baseball. They once happened to me in Toastmasters. Whether they happen in baseball or Toastmasters, they offer a lesson, if you’re willing to accept it. Read more »
When I was a UCLA student, I looked up to John Wooden. When I became an adult and a parent, I came to appreciate him even more. I liked his approach to coaching and mentoring, and I admired how he used sports to build character. As he said, “What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player.” In the tributes his players gave him before and after he died, it’s clear that he was more than a coach to them. He was a mentor and a father figure. He produced winning teams by turning his players into winners.
I’m now dealing with situations in my league that make me wonder if his lessons are lost on this generation of coaches and players. Strangely enough, the incidents started on the day he died. The incidents all stem from placing winning above everything else. Read more »
It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States where we get to enjoy a three-day weekend. And I plan to enjoy mine after several busy months. I plan to get caught up on long-standing paperwork and yardwork and perhaps enjoy a relaxing day in the spa.
But I also plan to stop and remember those who made this weekend of leisure possible, the brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.
I’ve never served in the Armed Forces or experienced combat, but I know from history and art how horrific war is. I know about the terrible things weapons can do to a person, and how they can rip apart body and mind. I know about the relentless terror and loneliness that courses through a soldier. I’ve also seen what war can do to ordinary citizens caught in its crossfire. We Americans should consider ourselves fortunate that we escaped foreign invasion and occupation as countries in Europe did in twentieth century. We are lucky that we were spared persistent enemy attacks as London suffered during the Blitz in World War II.
It is because of our brave men and women in uniform that we’ve been protected from the horrors of war. They’re why Pearl Harbor and 9/11, though terrible, were one-time attacks and not a continuous state of terror. They risk their lives far away from home so we can sleep comfortably and peacefully in bed at night.
So, as you enjoy your weekend, take a moment and thank those who made it possible.