Are you making plans to re-set something in ’18? Exercise levels? Career goals? Relationships? Your look? Last week I observed a quick moment that reminded me of the very real opportunity we all have as we begin another year. The opportunity isn’t found in the newest exercise app nor in the latest color palette for our homes. Instead it is something that resides in each of us.
My moment came about thanks to my teenage daughter. What is the saying, our children are our greatest teachers?
Let me give you some background.
The first weekend in January my daughter played in a tennis match. She is new to tennis. This was her second match.
As luck would have it she was pitted against other players who were far more experienced. Over the course of the competition she played three other girls.
I watched from the viewing area, proudly. Instead of getting discouraged by what turned out to be more losses than wins, she was buoyant. She knew that she was there to learn. To advance her game. Not to play someone else’s game.
The moment happened immediately after the tournament.
Unbeknownst to me, the parent of the trophy winner was standing next to me in the lobby as we both waited for our daughters. My daughter came out first. She was smiling and a little chilly. The facility was only lightly heated despite the freezing New England temperatures that morning.
She was happy and energized and, in those first minutes, told me all about her good showing.
I should tell you that the scene there that morning was all very serious business. Everyone seemed as if they were there to win. There were clenched fists and stomped feet when shots were missed. Was this McEnroe country or simply the standard for the twelve- to fourteen-year-old children assembled?
A minute or two after my daughter came out, the trophy winner walked out to stand next to her mom. Emotionless. My daughter played her in the last round of the competition so they knew each other.
“Congratulations on your win.” said my daughter as she turned to the trophy holder. Her remark was delivered with an earnestness that made everyone within ear shot turn towards these two competitors.
My daughter’s tone conveyed joy and sincerity and a kindness rarely offered from one to another. Let alone in this setting.
The reason the moment stayed with me wasn’t so much my daughter’s kindness.
It was the reaction of those on the receiving end.
The mother and the trophy winner both turned with an astonished look on their faces. “Wow!” they seemed to say. People in this place usually toss a perfunctory congratulations to one another. No one ever means it.
That simple exchange reminded me that being who we are matters. It doesn’t matter about the environment or the context or the circumstances. You have the ability to shape the world in a profound and meaningful way by simply being who you are.
As an alternative to resolutions and weight loss apps, I hope you consider acting in accordance with who you are in ’18. What one thing will you do this year that will give those around you a view to the unique gifts you alone possess?
Transition has helped me recognize the importance of shifts in our beliefs, in what holds value and meaning to us. It takes courage and confidence to lead with those things. The great news is that in return for this – at times lonely – path we are offered a vitality and energy that is enlivening and boundaryless.
In ’18 I hope that you take steps to play your own game – however different or unique it may seem. I also hope that you are met with the kind embrace of others as you journey along this path.
Thank you for reading. Take a moment to comment below or tell me what’s on your mind: email@example.com. Or, if you have another moment, please enjoy this New Year’s post from 2015:
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I LOVED this essay!! Thank you for sharing. It truly reminds me how deeply kindness is felt.