Last weekend, my 6 year old son had his first full-ice hockey tournament, or what Hockey Canada calls a ‘Fun Day.’ At this age they practice skating and work on skill development all year long and then at the end of the season play a few games.
As a doting parent and masters (nice term for old-timer) athlete I learned a lot watching those 3 games last weekend, and I believe there are lessons that may help you also.
You see, my son’s team was outscored about 100-5 over 3 games. Cumberland beat them about 50 to nothing and Cornwall did not even record a shot on goal! You would think that this would be devastating for a bunch of 6 year olds – many of whom were playing in front of a group of family and friends for the first time. You would think that they would give up and not even want to play anymore. You would certainly expect them to complain about having to go out and play another game after being beaten 50-0!
None of that happened. After each goal they went right back to the face-off circle. They skated as hard as their tired little legs could take them until the very end. They continued to race each other to the bench after each shift so they could get back on the ice sooner next time. Nobody complained. My son even asked if we would register him for the spring time 3 on 3 league at the end of the day!
In contrast, the parents were frustrated, bored, questioning the quality of our program, and mad at the other coach for not reigning in his team’s after goal celebrations. Some were embarrassed – for themselves and their kids.
What I learned is that this is why kids get so good at things so fast. They immerse themselves in the task and don’t worry about all that other stuff that really doesn’t matter. And, most importantly they keep on going. They could have lost 200 -0 and they would have kept going and kept getting better. How many adults would fail or get beat 200 times and keep going?
I made a decision after witnessing ‘Fun Day’, regarding my own adventure as a competitive Olympic style weightlifter. While I am competing in the 40-45 year old divisions of the Canadian and World Championships this year, I also qualified (barely) for the Ontario all ages Championship. I wasn’t planning on competing however. Why? Because my qualifying totals were so low and there are a bunch of men who are MUCH better than me. I didn’t want to look stupid. To hell with that! I love lifting, I love competing, and participating will make me a better athlete. I will be there March 23rd…wearing a singlet!
We can use this lesson from 6 year olds in any part of our lives. How many times have you quit something that would have created great value in your life just because it got hard or didn’t go your way? How many times have you stopped something or not taken the next step because you were preoccupied by what people may think or say or do?
How many people get excited about something only to quit when they don’t see immediate results? Who has the courage to focus on the process first, and then monitor the outcome? Do you know who HAS the courage? 6 year olds! Do YOU?
I know it is a cliché to talk about learning more from you kids than you teach them? In this case it is true. Thank you Xavier and Cornwall Blue for teaching this old-timer to think and play like a 6 year old again.