Recently, as I was driving home, I passed a beautiful red sports car stopped along the side of the road. I’m not certain what kind of car it was – Ferrari, Porsche, something in that class. Whatever it was, it was impressive. Next to the car stood an exasperated man, sleeves rolled up, tipping a small gas can into the tank. He was obviously frustrated and annoyed. This guy wasn’t going anywhere; his high-performance sports car had run out of gas.
I could sense his irritation as I passed him by, and I felt for him of course, but a part of me couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the moment. This had to be the most elite, most expensive, most critically acclaimed vehicle in five counties – a car that had every advantage in style and performance over any other car on the road – and there it sat. In that moment, that car’s five-star ranking was irrelevant. All those things it had didn’t matter; it was the crucial element it didn’t have that mattered. If the goal was getting where it needed to go, even a beat up, rusted-out clunker was more valuable than that fancy, high-end coupe with an empty tank.
Like the many makes and models of cars we see on the road, each one of our kids is unique, too. Every young athlete is different. Some of us may be parenting the trendy sports car type – the elite level, high-performing superstars, decked out to meet even the most exacting specifications. Others of us might have more like the middle of the road, pre-owned family sedan type. Maybe he’s not all that impressive to look at in some ways – especially compared to the fancy sports car types – but he gets the job done. Some of us may even describe our young athlete as the beat up, rusted-out clunker. Nothing about him screams “high performance.” In fact, there’s a sense of relief if you can get his motor going at all today.
Each of our kids may be different, but what we all share is the responsibility we have to help them navigate the challenges of the road ahead. Each one of us will help determine who our young athlete becomes. If you’re here today, reading this newsletter, hopefully the goal is that your child becomes a champion. How he compares to anyone else is irrelevant; your goal is that he achieves his very best and reaches his full potential. That’s the destination you have in mind. Of course, reaching that destination isn’t easy. Becoming a champion is a long, challenging journey that requires a lot from both child and parent. It requires dedication and determination. It requires patience and persistence. But maybe most importantly, it requires fuel for the journey ahead.
So what fuels the champion athlete? What drives him toward his very best? Simply put, the champion is fueled by a unique love for the game, a burning passion that drives him toward his full potential. When any one of us loves what we do – even if what we do is tough or challenging – it changes our perspective. What we love, we see as an opportunity; what we don’t love, we tend to see as an obligation. With an opportunity perspective we feel joyful, inspired, blessed, energized, and driven; with an obligation perspective, the same task makes us feel stressed, overwhelmed, burdened, fatigued, and frustrated. If you’re serious about raising and developing a champion, you are responsible for cultivating your child’s love for playing, and the powerful perspective that comes with it. The LENS book clarifies why: