Success is Fun
Is there a better time to discuss the meaning of life, than with your 11 year old son on the way to the batting cages? I submit to you that there is not. When you have nearly 6 kids (5 plus one on the way), its difficult to find quiet moments with your kids on a one-on-one basis. As a father, I have been trying to take more advantage of these small moments because I know my time with them is limited. Before long, they will hit free agency and either sign on with a big time college that I have to pay for or get married in a ceremony that I have to pay for.
So, my son is not an athlete. He's played team sports before, but he is not really driven to be great on the field. For the first 11 years of his life, he hasn't shown much interest in sports, but wanted to go hit some balls. He is driven more by the idea of catching Pokemon and building cubic edifices in make believe worlds. I mean, I like video games as much as the next person, but I get pretty bored playing after a while. So, it is difficult for me to relate. So, of course, I jumped at this opportunity to both encourage the lifestyle that is sports and get to know him better.
"What is it about Pokemon that you enjoy?" I asked.
"I like catching pokemon."
"Okay, so how does it feel to you when you catch a pokemon?"
"It depends on how rare it is or if I already have it."
"So, the more rare it is, the happier you are?"
Of course, I blabbed on and on about something because that's my part in the conversation. I talk a bunch, he mumbles a few words and we both feel satisfied. He was relieved when we arrived at the batting cages, because it meant I would stop asking him questions. I did. Though I did "have" to coach him in the cages. I haven't done a lot of coaching with him, and he was pretty raw. I tried to keep my mouth shut and let him hit some balls even if his form was terrible and he was breaking every rule of a swing. I just gave him a few things to notice and let him hack away, and he hit his fair share of balls. So, we were both happy.
When we drove home, I asked him what his favorite part was. He of course replied, "hitting the balls". That's when I had my "a-ha" moment. For him, hitting the balls was just like catching a pokemon. It was a success. It was a very tiny success, but it was still a success. That feeling he got making contact with a few dimpled yellow balls made him say that he wants to come back every Saturday. Success feels good. It doesn't matter how little or big it was, it can be addicting.
When was the last time you heard a losing team described as having "good chemistry"? Never, right? That label is always saved for those really successful teams that look like they're having fun. Winning is fun. Success is fun. There is nothing wrong with it. I'm sure some neuroscientist will tell you that certain chemicals are released when we have success or win something. (Maybe. You'd probably have to know one for him or her to tell you that) Sports and life are built around the hope of feeling success. And you know what makes that success feel more good? Like a pokemon, its rarity matters.
If you "win" all the time and never struggle, success is watered down and becomes meaningless. My son had to work for those hits in the cage today and that's why they felt so good. Its okay to feed some success in the beginning so you or your kids or your employees can get a taste. As soon as they get that taste and they want more, that's when real work and growth can happen. My son may never be a major league all-star, but if he does it will be because of this moment. So, when he is interviewed he had better remember it! (Yes, I will archive this article for him)
As a parent, I also had fun today because I had success. It was a successful outing where no one cried, no one got "bored" and no one had to spend too much money. That's like the trifecta of success for a father-child experience. I want to spend more time with my kid because of this experience. Like my kid said, success is fun.
(By the way if you're looking for a fun batting cage in Mesa, AZ, go to Home Run Stadium, www.mesabattingcages.com)