Blogpost, self-reliance

The Hands of Leadership

Six weeks…..That’s all she was.  This was not part of the plan.  Or the standard operating procedure.  It was fear, anxiety and an entire host of emotions that coalesced into waves that could not be stopped but also could not be indulged.  The fever had spiked for no apparent reason.  And we, as new parents to a peanut of a little girl, took her to the hospital without delay.  After a few attempts to lower her fever were unsuccessful, the doctors asked which one of us was going to stay with her.  My wife had to leave.  It was written on her face.  I had to stay.  Not because I wanted to and not for some macho reason that “I can handle anything.”  I had to stay because my daughter would not be in a room of strangers as she had a spinal tap.  My right hand clasped her little legs and feet.  Under her head went my left palm.  Gently but deliberately I folded her legs above her head, so the doctor could insert the needle into her back.  Never before or since have I been so aware of my every motion and trying to subdue even my heartbeat as much as possible.  The fever broke the next day and the spinal tap came back clear.

There are times when we get to choose to be a leader.  Other times, leadership is thrust upon us.  When we sign up for roles like coach, spouse, parent, teacher, etc., we tend to imagine the circumstances that we’ll face in terms of best case scenarios.  Events that we not only can deal with, but that we want to.  Life does not let the best case scenarios last for very long.  At that point we must choose who we are going to be and the example that we set for those around us.  It is our choices that define who we are.

One of my favorite comparisons to make is between Darth Vader and Teddy Roosevelt.  They have something crucial in common.  Both lost their mother and wife tragically.  Roosevelt’s wife and mother actually died less than twenty-four hours apart.  One chose to become the evil henchman to a diabolical tyrant.  The other chose to become one of our greatest presidents.  

Leadership is a choice that we make.  Over and over again, we are confronted with circumstances.  Our choices define us and the example that we set for others which is the strongest way to lead.  Every single one of us is a leader, even if we are only leading ourselves.

It’s in your hands!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Do You See the Goal?

The usual dimensions are eight feet high by twenty-four feet wide. That’s one hundred ninety two square feet of target. It’s no small thing considering a team of full grown men cannot cover it when standing shoulder to shoulder (depending on the width of the men). Despite the relatively large space that the ball has to pass through, goals are elusive. Games with three or more are considered high scoring. It is not so much the target itself that creates the challenge, it is all of the obstacles that stand in the way of the ball’s path. Ten normal defenders and a goalkeeper who can use her/his hands. The most talented goal scorers are worth their weight in gold. Their value eventually gets translated to their limbs but it starts with their eyes. They see the goal!

Ivan Toney shoots for Peterborough United. Photo by Joe Dent

At this point, a part of your brain is screaming “everyone sees the goals! It’s 192 square feet!” Unfortunately that’s what makes those goal scoring maestros so valuable. Most players do not see the goal. They see the defender, the goalkeeper, the disappointed face of their coach if they miss, the last three shots that went over, and so on. The vision that they have in their mind’s eye is not a clear path to success that they need to follow. Instead it is a neural pathway that is littered with past events or projections that they believe are partially related to a predictable future. Getting the ball into the goal would be a surprise rather than an expected outcome. The ability to believe in the newness of each attempt is a skill of extreme value.

Most people in the world aren’t trying to hit a perfectly visible 192 square feet. The area of their targets is much less defined and so are the defenders. However the greatest indicator of success or failure still resides in the mind of the person going toward the goal. Some goals are forgotten about because they’ve been mastered for so long. Tying ones shoelaces used to be something but now it is nothing. No defenders, no goal keeper, an open space to be hit with almost no effort. However that final exam, talking to that special person, starting that project: those goals are defended by giants. The goalkeeper is a jungle cat with hands. While the goalmouth itself is covered with well cemented bricks laid by a master mason. Or at least that’s what is represented in their mind. The truth of the matter is there are very few goals in this world that are completely defended.

The question truly becomes “Do you see the goal?” Not the entire general space but the little undefended area where you can get through. With your desired objective can you see past all of the obstacles and find the route to victory? Or can you build up enough desire and strength to muscle through the giants and the jungle cat and blast through the wall that stands in your way? Both are possible strategies but just like those maestros, first you need to see it. Then take the first step to get there. Even the simplest goals don’t score themselves. You need to act first!

Take aim!

Pete

PS Here is a video with the goals of Ivan Toney. He’s one of those special ones.