Over the past week I had the privelige of seeing a phenomenon that still has me thinking. Who am I listening to? And, is that the right person to look to in that particular situation. It was watching a pivotal moment for my students that forced me to ask these and many other questions. Let me get to the story.
I was taking yearbook pictures of the wrestling match. Usually before I take pictures I watch the kids to observe how they move. This way when they are in action, I catch the picture at the right moment. What I observed was not good. Turning to a friend, my assessment was, “This is one motley crew.” It was my kind way of saying we’re gonna lose. The friend nodded in agreement.
Then the match began. If I wasn’t there I’d have sworn that Tinkerbell, or the fairy of wrestling descended upon this group. Once those boys were on the mat, their goofy behavior was left on their chair. They were serious athletes. All but three won.
Two lost because their heads were pounded into the ground and blood was gushing out of their mouths and noses. They returned to the mat with cotton swab stuffed noses and vaseline coated lips. Hey, if I had to wrestle with a cotton ball up my nose, I’d let the other guy win too.
After a couple winning rounds, I noticed how the boys were winning. Whenever they were in a position that they found too precarious, those goofy boys looked up at their coach. He told them in a quiet but assured voice what they needed to do. And, they did it! And, lo and behold they won. Time and again.
The one that lost was my pivotal moment. He didn’t lose because he was a goofy, or a poor athlete for that matter. He was one of the better athletes in the group. This poor child’s problem was his well meaning father. While he wrestled his father was screaming at the top of his lungs. “PIN HIM”, “KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT”, “KEEP YOUR FOCUS” or “YOU GOT HIM.” The screaming was encouragement and support. However, it was loud. So when this one wrestler was in a bind, he couldn’t hear the coach. The match ended with him being pinned by the other team.
That dad did not intend to distract his son. He believed his son, with his encouragement, could win. Then I got to thinking about the people in my life. Are they telling me the wrong thing-even though it sounds good. Are they distracting me from hearing that quiet voice, that will tell me the next step I need to take? Even more important am I looking for that voice? Is my focus in the right place? All of a sudden at thirty plus twelve years, I have come to the realization that who you listen to really does make a big difference. Hopefully, I’ll remember this in, not after, future pivotal situations. However, I know if that doesn’t happen I’ll have some good writing material.