Before you start reading this you should know this is mostly opinion:
- Don’t listen to me because I don’t have any kids.
- The kids (THESE DAYS) I coach have a million more distractions than I ever had, which begs the question, what are the ramifications and adjustments for raising kids in this environment?
- As a former pro athlete and basketball coach of thousands of kids in the last 15 years, the kids, the clothes, the shoes, the words, everything changes year after year, but one thing. Mindsets. I observe kids with different mindsets, that’s it. Growth mindsets are typically taught by the parents, and parents must lead by example.
So yeah, the people that mold the youth are very important. You if you are reading this. The teachers of America. The parents on Main Street, in the country, or in the city. The coaches that lead our youth. The poor, the rich, the ugly, the pretty, it doesn’t matter.
Successful leadership and parenting comes down to the three things: 1. teaching and leading your kids how to fail and bounce back with better effort. 2. playing with your kids and loving your kids unconditionally while setting boundaries 3. I don’t know three yet because I don’t have any kids.
But I do coach kids. All the time.
Teachers, coaches, mentors, and parents are doing the biggest, most important job our country and society has ever needed —to raise radically self-reliant, self-aware, disciplined, happier, emotionally intelligent, gritty little boys and girls that know how to keep a positive outlook on life; kids that know how to handle failure and bounce back from adversity.
Yet, I’m convinced USA is headed for the last place on chart of happiest (okay, another word for well-being) countries in the world. Why? Because our polarized value system and economic inequality.
Yes, many of our values suck America, (no, not all of them) and if our values didn’t suck, maybe our well-being rating wouldn’t be so low. But since our well-being scores are so low, compared to our GDP per capita versus all other countries, I must wonder if it is our materialistic and consumptive values that continue to diminish our lives?
Meaning, if we continue to never question the value of the things, people, and jobs we do, buy, and have in our lives, what is the result of this behavior and lifestyle?
The theoretical structure I build for my life includes my values. My values are inherently connected to the time and freedom of what unconventional living and thinking provide me.
Parents, mentors, coaches, can’t give a kid critical insights without fear of another parent getting sensitive. Why can’t parents allow their kids to fail and still help them learn grit, and you can always demand their effort, listening, and applicable passion in something they (or their parents) signed up to do?
Just to get this off my chest, teachers don’t get paid enough, first off.
My opinion: the very people that work with our kids the most get paid way too little.
Coaches, parents, mentors, community leaders, pro athletes, and the media all influence kids to build their values early and often. This is a huge task. But our society has shitty way of making media look like we are all trying to kill each other. Be on opposite sides. Teams. Nothing is black or white anymore. There are issues. Challenges. And truth be told, our media typically hurts us more than helps us.
A corruptible system is easily corruptible — politics, amateur sports, college sports, big business, you name it, you can find greed, ego, and cheating, lying, and stealing.
How do we navigate this world with kids and still invest in timeless values, habits, and qualities that will help them succeed?
Turn off the phones.
Hack the computer lines?
Or just change the channels to something positive, while understanding there is a real discussion about what matters to you and your kids.
Our social media tries to make us compare ourselves to one another.
Trump (sometimes) divides us.
And radicals of liberalism demand ribbons for participation and take it personal when there is a loser and winner. I may have just made that up, but it seems like a truth.
Dear White People,
We are fine. We’ve always been winning the genetic lottery, we don’t need to make up for it with more sensitivity about displaying our own emotional fanaticism.
There is a spectrum of our society polarized by hate and emotional out rage, on both sides. Be angry about the fact we have less vacation than almost any European country in the world (off the top of my head). Be mad about our kid’s school fitness and gym class programs disappearing. Go vote, or better run for office, and try to change your local legislation for corruptible system of lobbying with money, drugs, and sex for our congressmen and women.
But let’s think about your kid’s future.
This life isn’t about only our feelings and our direction. I want the kids to succeed at what they do in life with their life, not be put on anxiety meds, SSRI’s, while being told to conform to what society expects of them. Perpetuating the problem is kicking the can to the people that see your kids more than you and hoping they do a better job than you are.
More parents should lead by example. Be the secret gummy bear juice. Draw the boundaries. Have fun, but create positive routines for learning new skills, habits, exercise, and grit. Show them how to stay positive, engaged, and listen better.
I am fortunate to know these types of awesome parents.
Success doesn’t start with intelligence, or passing on talents. Success starts with your kid being happier, by creating joyful effort in learning and curiosity. The ability to self-regulate, motivate yourself, demonstrate grit for something you want, while using self-awareness to auto-tune your direction is one of the highest forms of emotional intelligence.
Kids that can lead themselves, can eventually lead people.
Lastly, being able to learn new skill sets quickly and effectively prepares kids for success in a world where technology changes or doubles in capacity every 18 months.
Parents that only foster participation without applied passion or effort are losing the competitive drive to improve oneself. If real talk is needed to apply a kid’s passion as presently as possible, then critical insight (real talk) is the last defender for our youth in this great world of ours.
It’s why sports are so crucial — it teaches us through life lessons that
A. failure happens when we have shitty effort/passion, haven’t demonstrated grit for long enough, or
B. the other team was just better because they had more skills, talent, and had been practicing longer than you, which is okay, if you competed and fought.
Do we measure competition in youth enough, but have critical talks about about how to change the course of your success through GRIT, practice, and learning how to win?
Like with my startup HoopsLink Fitness, I actually hope someone smarter than me gives me critical feedback and says, “Trevor, no actually, I see what you are trying to do, but you are doing a shitty job. Do this instead. Practice this. It’s a healthier, more efficient way to do things.”
Like when I dated my first girlfriend, I thought, “Damn, I am such a good boyfriend. I got this beautiful lady, over-kicked my coverage, and she is so smart, funny, weird, athletic, beautiful — look at me now.”
I wish someone had told me, maybe even slapped me in the face and told me the real talk; that complacency in about anything is the curse of progress.
Unless of course, you are trying to relax. Then complacency is exactly what you need to do (which is also a very important skill to learn).
Progress isn’t greed, or money, or power, or status.
Progress is learning values that play inside the infinite game of happiness. This, my friends, is focused on the process, not the result.
Fuck the result, focus on the right type of effort!
Get your kids practicing new skills. Jumping in with effort into new challenging tasks. Demonstrating grit. And show them how you dooooo it while talking through their emotions, thoughts, and feelings as give you them critical feedback about how to do it in a different way.
Shit, parenting is one of the hardest jobs out there and I’m no parent.
Look, sports taught me critical things and qualities about life that will help your kids learn, succeed, and bounce back from failure.
My conclusive pro athlete parenting advice:
Show up to be their parent first, their coach second.
Do the work you love to do. Teach your kids how to jump forward and practice the growth mindset when it comes to building new skills.
Be an example of building grit and effort by teaching your kids the value of discipline, taking challenges head on, and doing things outside your comfort zone.
Figure out how to work together with a team of people from different backgrounds.