The fall is my favorite time of year, and has been for as long as I can remember. I love the coziness and anticipation of the holidays. I love pumpkin everything, wearing sweaters (now that it has finally cooled down in San Diego!) and settling in to a school routine. Dennis and I have always loved football season, but now we have another sport to look forward to: soccer! Mateo has played for four years now and I absolutely adore watching him play!
He has a gracefulness and intensity on the soccer field. As his mom, I get very emotionally involved in his games. I cheer, scream, laugh, and sometimes even cry. It’s the full spectrum of emotions!
A few weeks ago, his game was particularly enthralling. First, he had an accidental hand ball in the goalie box which resulted in the other team scoring on a penalty kick early on. I watched him respond with little emotion to this setback. Then, later in the game, he scored two goals! The second of which was on a corner kick he took and I miraculously caught on video! I’m usually enjoying the game too much to take photos or videos, but I’d heard the coach tell Teo he was about to get a rest, so I figured I’d record for the last minute he was on the field.
On the car ride home we viewed the video clip to relive the moment again. This time, I noticed that, although it was a strong kick, the goal could largely be attributed to the goalie mishandling the ball. I felt badly for the little goalie and it reminded me of Teo’s hand ball at the beginning of the game. Adversity in sports is constant.
With these ideas fresh in mind, I ran on the treadmill that afternoon and watched a college football game. One highlight was a long pass downfield where the wide receiver made an exceptional play! As he celebrated his catch, the defensive back was sprawled on the field, totally defeated. It hit me, many moments in sports represent both an achievement and a failure. In some ways, you cannot have a high without a corresponding low. Think about it: a pitcher striking out a batter represents his success, while the batter has failed. Whereas, a home run represents the batter’s success and the pitcher’s failure.
From the outside looking in, it seems clear that the victorious player is the “winner” and the defeated player is the “loser” in these moments. However, this one moment in time could actually represent an inverse reaction. What if the wide receiver who made the amazing catch decides this play proves what a wonderful player he is and therefore he stops working so hard at practice? What if the defensive back uses this moment of defeat to motivate himself to practice harder and grow as a player?
Growth happens throughout our lives in so many ways. Each moment and experience has the potential to further our growth and development. This reminds me of the famous quote by Nelson Mandela. He said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” Isn’t it true? Most of the learning and growth we experience in life comes from hardships, failures, or setbacks. When things aren’t working well is when we have to dig down deep and evaluate our behavior and actions to see where we can improve.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my role in my children’s moments of failure and hardship. It’s important that they build resiliency and the ability to learn from their mistakes and try again. When I jump in to soften a failure or manage their feelings, I’m actually robbing them of the fuel to learn and grow. Those moments of adversity are important teachers. Actually, Teo demonstrated this growth mindset during that soccer game. When I asked him, “How’d you feel after the penalty kick?” he replied, “Oh, it was okay. I just figured, we’ll have to go score some goals.”