I sat down to write this piece, or at least get it started no less than five times in the last week, so as to recap the last three weekends of our hockey season. The last three weekends consisted of the Granite State League Playoffs (I was not present), the Mass Select Playoffs, and then Tier II Sectional’s (I missed this one also). I will get game sheets for these games, at least I hope to, so that I can update the individual stats for the team that I have tracked since September 2012. I track the stats because I enjoy doing it. I track stats for the coaches so that they have numbers to match their suspicions, hunches, and what they thought they saw. I track stats for the players so that they learn the familiarity of measurement as it relates to performance. For measurement related to performance will be a part of their lives for decades to come.
Then, for the last two weeks, there’s been a train of thought gathering steam accompanied by a growing feeling stuck in my craw. So, that is the direction I set now. To expand on that sense which grows by the hour and now fills this space. I write this to share, and to reveal also the depth of meaning buried in the thoughts I’ve left arranged not over the last two weeks.
There comes a time in every boy or girl’s life when they are exposed to direction given by an authority figure; an individual that means well and has the intention of developing people to be better than they were before given their direction. Within the obedience accompanied by childhood, and the respect given to the authority, and for the betterment of those other folks who were also given this guidance, the boy or girl buys in, and pursues the common goal as laid out by authority. The group of people work through differences, or at least in spite of them, and grow, develop, and improve in areas targeted by the powers that be. Day after day, week after week, the message is similar, and the results prove that more things are going right than they are going wrong. The group, while not perfect, feels a sense of security, together, as they achieve levels of higher performance and recognize growth within the group. They build bonds with one another that were stronger than ever before, and they realize that these bonds are between individuals working together toward a common goal, and not with the setter(s) of the direction. As it should be.
Time expires on the goals set for this period of time, and the overall grade given in rating the progress made by the group is unclear. The assessment appears to be positive yet somehow, it’s not the stake in the ground marking a step along the timeline of a bigger, better picture that it felt like while accomplishing it. It’s more like a disingenuous compliment given by those whom are more interested in the direction of their own and the musings they delight in, than the realities of hard work, real progress, and making the best of what they have.
The group, not as savvy as the setter’s of their way, aren’t ignorant, yet remain completely engaged, bought in, and looking for the direction that follows the line they’ve toed so far. All of them, except for those who, by extenuating circumstance or circumstance formed a little closer to the heart of the matter, are on board, and looking for that direction that steers them further ahead on the road of progress.
However, for all of the group, that direction does not come, at least not from these setter’s of direction. Instead comes word that, when read between the lines, says we don’t value what you have contributed thus far, as we think there are better individuals outside of this group, so with our limited working knowledge of these others, we will move forward with them because we are the setter’s of direction and this is the direction we choose, as we know we will be better with them. In other words, our goals are not the groups goals, so to reach our goals we will try a different group, as this is about us, but not all of you. It’s supposed to be all about the kids, not just some of the kids. Several of the group are sent away with a half-hearted attempt at a sorrowful dismissal. Adding insult to the injured, whom are yet reeling from the feeling of betrayal by those who pleaded for their buy in, and commitment, got it, and threw it in their faces; they are told that even though some of the others thought to be better won’t join the group, we will search elsewhere, for others who we feel are better than you, because we are smart, and we know you are not who we want.
Then, one of the former group raises an interesting question which falls silently into the wake of the exodus from this group, what about working with what you have, and making the best of that? Good question.
Now, in a separate line of thought completely, let it be known that I am all for competition, making one’s self better, and trying to assemble the best team possible whenever given the chance to do so. I am also a proponent of making the best of what you have. More often than not there comes a time when you have to just draw the line, and get down to work with what you have. Some people would say that you should constantly try to improve your position, and sometimes that simply means dig in with what you have and maximize the resources available through hard work, dedication, continuity, and creativity. It’s not about, “woe is me”, look what I am stuck with. I prefer that the glass is half full, and to look at all the things we can do with this.
To some there’s never a line drawn, unless someone else draws it for them. They are incapable of making tough decisions and though they swear they know how to do so, but fail to make them. A long time ago I learned that, to know and not to do, is yet to know. As I work with kids from grade school age right through to college aged kids, I ask them the difference between trying and doing. Almost every single kid, regardless of age, responds with something about trying is failing to actually ‘do’. Kids can figure this stuff out, but they still clamor for the direction that allows them to move past ‘try’ and get to ‘do’. The point is this, make the call, the right call. In matters of right versus wrong, the right answer is always the right answer, no matter how it’s spun. So, when resources are limited, or even, resources presented are all there are, then utilize what’s there to be molded, and work your tail off to get to your vision of what could be, with what you have. Not with what you wish you had. Not with what you could have if you only had two more weeks. Not with what you know is out there but isn’t yours to work with. Make the decision, set your stance, and work with what you have. This isn’t an open-ended, rolling time period, use the resources you have, the ones you know, the ones presently available, and make the best of it.
I’ve coached teams that won everything they played when I wondered how we’d win half. I have thought I knew so much going into situations only to find that I only knew what I knew, and I knew not what everyone was capable of, if given the chance. I knew that I would set the tone, and that I would demand respect of me, respect of one another, and respect of the opportunity to work together, and that was bigger than us all. I assessed groups and wished for better at times, but it always came down to just working. Working hard. Working smart. Working together. Working to blend strengths while overcoming weaknesses. Working to reinforce the weakest link. Work. We worked, and we were all better for it.
This isn’t a me versus everyone. Just a reference into my own experience. My experience continues everyday, and just when I thought I’ve learned, or experienced enough, I’m reminded that I am merely a child in the timeline of experience, and I buy in, again, and work toward a greater good. From there I humbly get to work and make the best of it. It’s a cycle you know, a cycle that repeats over and over. Even so, there’s a lot of fun, and little miracles a plenty along the way.