Like almost every parent, I am intensely proud of my children.
I have reveled in their accomplishments. From winning the first grade spelling bee to earning a scholarship to a prestigious university graduate program. From getting the blue ribbon at preschool dance competition to being recognized as the most inspirational student-athlete in high school. But I have even more admiration for how they have picked themselves up from disappointment, dusted themselves off and set out to turn lemons into lemonade.
I am fully aware that my children are not unique. The achievements of our nation’s youth as a whole are remarkable — and they are resilient in dealing with challenges.
So what does this have to do with you, you ask? I don’t have a Ph.D. in psychology and certainly have not conducted a statistically valid study. But in my sample size of two children, I have observed a behavior that we as adults would be wise to mimic.
Early in my daughter’s freshman year of high school, she proclaimed she was going to participate in forensics and musical theater without any previous experience. She would spend hour upon hour in the “black box” — a small room behind the stage in the auditorium where students would practice their parts. These students would help each other overcome obstacles with positive support. It was the place where my daughter’s friends would not let her quit when the going got rough. They would not let her fail. They helped to instill in her a courage and determination that helped her achieve when success looked doubtful. She would go on to become the first, four-time state finalist in forensics in school history.
My son grew up as a good athlete, but a devastating knee injury in high school was a major setback — not only physically, but to his psyche as well. As a captain on the football team, he was looked at as a leader. For him, his respite was the locker room. It was the place where he lifted weights and rehabbed his knee in the wee hours of the morning. It was the place where he would be joined by his teammates as they talked about team goals, about coming together, about team over self. And when his knee swelled to three times its normal size, he continued to work and receive encouragement from his teammates. His disappointment came in not being healthy enough to win the quarterback position. But his legacy was cemented in rushing for nearly 500 yards in four playoff games en route to the state championship game.
What this has to do with us is about how we handle both success and failure. It is about how we as individuals gain strength from the support of others. It is about how we put ourselves in a position to be successful. For my daughter, it was the black box. For my son, it was the locker room. They found strength and resolve in a physical location that provided emotional support.
So, where is your room? Where do you find that support when the challenges are great? Where do you get the objective feedback from those you trust? Where do you get the inspiration to act with strength and courage?
The truth is, deep down, we probably know the answer. It might be church. It might be at home with family. It might be the corner booth in the coffee shop. It might be the maintenance shop at your golf course.
Wherever it is, we all need to find our room. Indeed, we do get by with a little help from our friends.