At the beginning of every school year each member of my family sets goals. We call these goals our “One Thing” It is the one thing we can do, that by doing it, makes everything else easier. We make signs, and everyone places his or her sign in their bathroom to see as they get ready each morning. When summer arrives, we reflect back on our “One Things” and take inventory of how we did and what we can improve on. This year my One Thing was discipline and daughter’s one thing was to strengthen her basketball skills. This goal of hers was supposed to be fun — she didn’t think it would be hard to achieve since she loves the sport so much. However, in the middle of the year, she was ready to quit. You know what the root problem was? At the bottom of her desire to quit, was fear, a lack of belief within herself.
Husband and I found ourselves in uncharted territory. We didn’t raise her to back out of goals because of fear. We taught her to go full force in the direction of her dreams. My first thought was to tell her to shape up and get outside. But then I saw tears — she had never cried about basketball before. When it comes to basketball I have seen her get mad, happy, frustrated, but I had never seen her shed tears of fear. After many days of questioning her, she finally admitted she was afraid of not ever being as good as she wanted to be. To her, not living up to her expectation was complete failure.
That statement gave me pause. Because that is why I chose discipline as my One Thing, I knew I had to sit down, think and share my heart with her. To me, if I am disciplined enough, I will never fail. Daughter is just following in my footsteps — I had no right to force my disciplined mind set on her. It was time for some grace, followed by some grit.
We actually sat down and talked about Olympic Gold Medalist Wilma Rudolph — how she couldn’t overcome her slow start in every race in high school. How she didn’t make her basketball team without intervention from her dad. I asked her what she thought Wilma’s “One Thing” was in high school. If she could have seen her whole life, would she have doubted herself? Daughter had to admit teenage Wilma may have been a bit like her. So we talked about what Wilma had that my daughter lacked — belief in herself, grit and perseverance. Daughter didn’t realize that even breaking her free-throw record by one point means she succeeded. Heck, even having an off day in basketball means she still succeeded because she got outside and practiced. Even missing every basket she shot in a game means she still succeeds because she believed in herself. And there lies the lesson from Wilma — having the courage to believe in one’s self half of the process.
We passed the rough spot for now. It took a lot of patience and grit, she went back and forth for a while but eventually she realized failure at a goal is better than hiding behind fear. Fear stops you and leaves you empty. Confidence gives you a life worth living. After much reflection, my daughter decided next year’s One Thing will be confidence. I am pretty sure it will be mine as well.