What I learned without meaning to: Lessons from a 2021 graduate's dad
I’ve been anticipating the month of May 2021 for some time, and not always with a good, excited anticipation. I knew it was going to be a challenging and emotional month for many reasons, but I’m also excited for the new beginnings it has created.
As I write this column, we are about halfway through Spring Breakout 2021! What a great event this roadshow has been for so many reasons. I’ve met amazing new people, developed meaningful relationships, eaten some great food, had some good laughs, interacted more than I have in the last 12 months combined, and a bit of fun along the way. If you haven’t been able to join us yet, don’t miss the opportunity to come hang out with us at the Merchandise Mart on Wednesday, June 2nd!
But today, I’m headed home to spend the weekend with my family and then rejoin the group in a few days. I’m headed home to celebrate my daughter and the closing of one chapter in her life and the opening of a new one. It’s graduation time! It’s time to celebrate all of her accomplishments, rejoice that high school has come to an end, and college is about to begin. In fact, in just a few short weeks, 6 weeks to be exact — she’ll head off to college to fulfill one of her lifelong dreams to play Division 1 College Soccer.
As I’ve been reflecting on her journey, especially the past few weeks, there are a few things I wanted to share that I’ve learned from her. And for me, it highlighted the fact that if we pay attention, we have the opportunity to learn from anyone, especially those closest to us. Learning is truly a gift, but so many times we are moving so fast, that we don’t take the time to look around us and discover the lessons right in front of us.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking — learn from your kids? Yes! Even though it’s our job as parents to teach them and help them grow and develop into amazing adults, they have the ability to teach as well, we just have to be willing to get out of our own way and receive the gift they are giving us. One of the easiest ways to do this is to journal, using the question, “What did I learn today?” This is a great way to acknowledge all the things you learn each day and to who you learned them from! It’s also a great way to reflect back on the things you’ve learned throughout the year.
I could likely write a book on all the things I’ve learned over the few weeks, especially from my daughter Lucy. However, I want to focus on just a few that I believe are important for all of us, regardless of where you are in your life or career at this moment:
To get what we want out of our life and career, we have to make choices, and those choices include making a sacrifice. Every time we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. Five days, sometimes six days a week, Lucy says “yes” to working out and not to sleeping in — if you have teenagers, you understand how impressive this is! You see, she gets up at 5:00 am with her brother, Jackson to go workout and lift weights for an hour — and she’s doing it with a group of high school boys who play football, and they are all encouraging her to continue to get stronger. It’s so important to surround yourself with people who love, encourage, and support you!
Why is she doing this? Well, strength, endurance, and commitment are a key part of her playing soccer in college. In addition to becoming a better athlete, she’s developing a commitment to living a healthy life, and I think we all know the importance of that. What I have learned is you are not going to have the success you want without sacrifice.
What are you sacrificing today to make your dreams come true? What sacrifices are you making?
We all have dreams! We all want more out of our life and career, but so many times we don’t chase our dreams — instead, we chase titles, and somehow the two become synonymous. For the longest time, I was chasing the titles, making the necessary moves to climb the corporate ladder — to some degree, it’s what we’ve all been taught to do. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that wasn’t my dream — my dream was to have the freedom I want in my professional and personal life and to have a positive impact on those around me.
As I’ve watched Lucy over the past few years, I've seen her chase the dream of becoming a Division 1 College Athlete, not the title of D1 Athlete — and it hasn’t been an easy path. If you know anything about competitive soccer at the club and high school level, you know exactly what I’m referring to, but then you add in the injuries, she tore her ACL and missed a year of playing the game she loves. Honestly, with this and the other challenges that she’s faced over the past few years, most people would just simply give up. But she did not!
By chasing her dreams, she’s kept her eye on the prize, overcoming obstacles and winning some amazing accolades along the way, including being recognized this year as “First Team All District” and the “Offensive Player of the Year” in our highly competitive school district, along with Academic All State Team. She’s a perfect example of how focusing on your dreams and committing to put in the work will lead to the acknowledgements and recognition we crave.
What are you doing to chase your dreams today?
I’ve written a lot about leadership over the past couple of years, but what I learned about leadership from Lucy is that leadership is really about giving and supporting! This year, she’s the only 4-year Varsity player on her high school team, and she’s one of two team captains. The young players on the team look up to her and respect her, and she’s an example of what’s possible if you focus on your goals. Her approach to leadership is to lead by example and to be the first one to do what’s not asked of her.
Additionally, she gives and supports her teammates in ways that are not obvious to those that don’t know her, including providing support to players who are struggling or may need some additional encouragement to keep moving forward, both on the field and off. For me, I’m really proud of how she leads with her faith — she’s an example of what it’s like to be faithful to yourself and your beliefs, regardless of someone else's opinion. You see, EVERY game she leads the team in prayer and prays for their safety and courage to play their best, not to win! This, my friends, is leadership.
What are you doing to be a leader that is not expected of you? How are you supporting and giving to others when no one else is looking?
Live Out Loud
There is no doubt that Lucy lives her life out loud — and she may get this honestly from me, because I tend to do this a lot. But what I most appreciate about this quality in her is that, not only do you know where you stand with her, you can always count on her to give you her best, to play full out with all the intensity that you would expect of a high caliber athlete.
I’ve watched her be targeted by the other teams. She’s a striker and takes a lot of shots on goals and scores most of them — so she’s being covered by 2-3 players at a time. But unfortunately for the other team, that inspires her to work harder, play smarter, and be more aggressive. I’ve seen her get taken out — and get right back up and re-engage in the game...but, watch out, do it too many times, and she’s coming for you.
But what I love most is that she lives out loud off the field as well. She’s fierce in sharing her beliefs, supporting her friends and her family (especially her younger brother). I see examples of this daily as regardless of the circumstance, she’s working to make the world a better place!
There is no doubt I’m a proud father, and I’m inspired by all the things she has accomplished, but most importantly, I’m honored to have learned so much from such an amazing young lady — all because I’m paying attention and am open to learning from her.
Are you open to learning from those younger than you, or with less experience than you?
As this chapter of her young life comes to a close and a new one begins, I want to share one final message to her:
"Lucy, you inspire me! I’m honored to be your Dad. Your future is bright, and I’m excited to see all the amazing things you will accomplish! Your love for life is infectious, and you spread so much joy each and every day. Stay committed to what you want, keep working hard, keep believing in yourself, and you will create the life of your dreams. I love you more than you will ever know!"
Be sure to visit my blog at www.sidmeadows.com/blog, and let me know some of the things you have learned recently and from whom. Keep moving forward to create the life you want!