Musings from George

Horrible warning
May 7, 2012, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” Catherine Aird

Someone I know well used this line in her email signature, and it has always stuck with me. I am coaching a bunch of 6- to 8-year-old boys and I do my best to be a positive role model. But it isn’t always easy to stay calm or to be happy when things are not going well, and there are always kids who push your buttons. It is telling to watch how different coaches (and parents) act as examples (or warnings) to their kids. It is flattering (or puzzling 🙂 that most of the parents drop their kids at the curb for practice, and allow us to mold them for ninety minutes.

I am also helping to coach a bunch of 5- and 6-year-old girls, and it is somehow much less frustrating because even when they don’t listen they are nice to each other and to me.

One of the hardest ways to learn is to observe bad behavior (those horrible warnings), and to figure out how to avoid doing the same. Kids exposed to violent homes are predisposed to be violent, but the smart kids break the cycle of violence and commit themselves to protecting others rather than hurting them. It is hard to be the first person in a home to go to college (both our parents graduated from college, so we all graduated), and I have seen the challenges kids face when they don’t have a room to study in and don’t have a place of their own to keep their things (like books).

One of the best coaches I ever had never played water polo, but learned the game and was great through leadership rather than through example. By recruiting and retaining great players and co-coaches he built a dynasty at our high school. He was gay, and no one cared. He spent countless hours ensuring that we had everything we needed to succeed, and in addition taught math very well too (strict, with a focus on raising the bar for everyone). I learned many lessons about leading from him, as I know many others did as well.

I am curious to see how our current candidates for president use this election. The lessons of the recent past elections are that “nasty works”, and ideas don’t really matter. Romney distinguished himself from his rivals with a flood of negative advertising, some of which was returned in kind. Obama once ran on change and hope, and now has to settle for fear about Romney changing back to old policies … sort of the opposite of hope. It is always harder to run on one’s record, as the Tea Party freshmen are learning, but it is also rather sad to have to rely on fear instead.



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