Updated: Dec 8, 2018
As I have aged I find myself reflecting upon the wisdom imparted by my parents with an ever diminishing resistance. Naturally, as a child one of the only categorical truths in my life was that my parents were clearly on a mission to ruin my life and any advice offered should be viewed with extreme scepticism. As a result, I did my very best to ignore all attempts from them to guide or mentor assuming that if I did not engage that there would be no lasting impact.
Oh how wrong I was…
Despite my best efforts, however, those words of insight ring louder than ever before. In fact, I even found myself recently suggesting the very same advice to my own children (to my absolute horror!).
When I was a young man my life was consumed with football. I remember once, after a particularly crushing loss, my father telling me “Adam, you should never walk onto the pitch unless you can afford to lose the game!” As a fierce competitor such a comment was lost on me and merely confirmed the reasons why I believed my father’s opinion to be critically flawed. In my adolescent mind winning was the only point in playing. Why on earth would I be happy to lose the game – I mean, who thinks that way?
Of course, I know now that his point had been totally missed.
My father was not talking about winning or losing, not even about playing football. He was talking about developing the bravery to take risks even though the outcome might be unknown, the need to prioritise what’s really important in life, to understand that sometimes we can learn and grow more from a loss that a victory, that those who compromise their beliefs in order to gain victory rarely win in the end, and, above all, that life’s real joy must be found in the competition itself rather than the result.
Over the years, I have come to reflect on these words in every facet of my adult life. With my own family, on and off the playing field, in the classroom, and now the office. In times of stressful decision-making, I can even be heard verbalising my thoughts… “make sure that you can afford to lose this one, Adam!”
The message? Well, of course dad was right! And still is (no need for him to know that!). So speak to your children. Guide them. Mentor them. And never be afraid to impart your good sense even when they appear to be doing absolutely everything possible not to hear you! They do hear you, they will remember, and it really will make a difference (Just don’t expect them to admit to it!).
Oh and, “you should never walk onto the pitch unless you can afford to lose the game!”