A very brief one tonight. Nothing on the Superbowl. Except this:
Okay, only that one thing on the Superbowl. And this:
That was the gutsiest call I’ve ever seen in a Superbowl.
Today, I got feedback. Sometimes feedback is the best. I try to affirm people because I believe words have power. Motivation through criticism over the long haul bears bad fruit (just as guilt and shame do, in the long term), and as a coach, a mentor, a teacher, a preacher, and as a dad, I’m interested in lifetime impact, not short-term results. I have moments when I lose sight of this, but I try to carry this view front and center in all my roles.
Today, the mom of a great athlete gave me feedback on my coaching. I could have cried. First, her child told her everything I said, exactly what I said. That means the words sank in. That means it’s working.
Second, this young person accurately grasped and repeated that I was affirming something I saw in the person’s character, not merely athletic ability. Athletic ability is nice. It’s a gift. It’s fun and a little like being good-looking (I’ve heard): you can be all proud of it if you want, but you didn’t do it for yourself nor do anything to earn it. You just won that cosmic lottery. Maybe.*
Character, on the other hand, is the long term fruit. Character matters. “Character and competency,” as my friend Erik likes to say. When I get to see a kid’s character coming out on the field or the court, that’s huge. That matters more than throws and catches or shots and steals. I still believe sports can build strong, godly character. I’ve seen it happen. I’m seeing it happen.
So that’s what I got to recognize and affirm: character growth, the kind I know will transfer over into other areas of life.
Here’s what I also got in the deal: I learned this great athlete is very sensitive to criticism. I had no idea. I didn’t find out because I’d screwed up (for once! Yay!), but because I did it right, congruent with my own values, and through our conversation, the mom let me know this and how much her athlete appreciates my positive approach.
I also don’t like criticism. Yes, I know, sometimes it’s necessary, and if you can’t take criticism, etc, etc. I’ve heard. I also know that I hear one criticism louder than
5 10 a bunch of affirmations. Bummer, I know, but that’s my stuff and I live with it. I didn’t know this young person felt the same way.* I’m not that insightful…or maybe my intuition actually works. Possibly.
Here’s my conclusion: in retrospect, I’m going to say the moment when I thought, “I should make a point of going over and looking that kid in the eye and saying this” was a nudge from God. It didn’t feel like divine intervention, just one of those impulses that I acted on because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe those are the same thing.
But I will tell you this: that nudge will be easier to act on next time because of the feedback.
Maybe that’s exactly how faith works.
*How you choose to develop your athletic ability–or not–and how you use it, these are very much character questions.
**You’re going to ask, “Isn’t everyone sensitive to criticism.” No. Not in the same way. Some people are very thick-skinned. Some people simply don’t care what you think. And some people will pay no attention to affirmation at all and will only listen to critique. It’s a weird world.