Growing up, I thrive on competition in sports.
Any regular sporting exercise that wasn’t a competition, e.g. running, swimming would quickly lose my interest.
I largely took this same philosophy to other aspects of my life too.
When the soccer season started this year, my hope was for Davis to enjoy and improve.
But the truth is, I wanted him to strive for achievement, I wanted him to win, to score, to do his best more than his enjoyment.
Early to midseason, it was difficult to watch the games as my emotions were naturally attached to the outcome of his performance and the scoreboard.
As his team was playing in a higher division, Weeks after weeks, his team was losing by what I would consider a sizable margin. To top that off, most of the time Davis likes to run alongside the ball (with a big smile on his face) but not to tackle to the ball, as he doesn’t want to get hurt.
Naturally, I tried to help him overcome his fears by trying to help him practice, using a visualisation technique or pumping him up before a game.
All of this seems to have made a minimal difference, so when the carrot stopped working, I tried to use the stick. I said to him each week driving you to the game, training, and back takes a lot of my time, and unless you give it your best, I got better things to do. He didn’t say anything.
It was only after a heart and heart talk to connect with Davis, did I find out that he really likes soccer, just as much, if not more than some of the other activities I thought he would enjoy more of. This prompted me to think, what if him running alongside the ball, not caring about the result is just perfect?
Some studies have shown as kids grow up and when they start to measure results, start separating kids into different divisions, this is when we start to lose a lot of the kids to the sport, whichever sport it may be. Conversely, when results are not measured or published, participation rates increased significantly.
What if by way of keeping score and focus on the outcome, we start to create division and separation?
This post is not to suggest whether we should or should not measure results or have a competition ladder. It is merely my personal reflection through the lessons I was humbled with.
Paraphrasing from In the ancient wisdom of Tao Te Ching, When everything is beautiful, nothing is beautiful.
In the world of duality, it is impossible to use spoken languages to communicate a non-dualistic view that everything is perfection, there is even perfection in the imperfection.
Davis is perfect, but through my lens of the world that I was raised in, by him not striving for his best, it was not ideal. On reflection, his ability to be in the present and enjoy the present moment is what I got a chance to learn from. As opposed to me reliving the past and creating fear-based projection of the future, therefore completely missing the perfection in the present moment.
Thankfully this all started to change, not because they started winning, but week in week out, I saw how much the kids enjoyed their time in training and the games. I was lifted by the positive spirits of the coach Melanie all the parents in this team that week in week out, they turn up with such a positive attitude.
This lead to another thought, most parents say we want our kids to be happy, myself included. But in reality, it is a disguise that success based on our model of the world is more important than their happiness. Think of the time the kids are having fun, mucking around instead of doing their homework, or picking up their socks. They are extremely happy, full of giggles and laughter. If this happened consistently, every day, every week, are we able to be happy in the present together with them?
Or is our expectations and fear based projection of the future too difficult to let go of?