I begin this post with the notion that there is always a solution. It is too easy for many to just say no. Ideas get shot down by people who just don't want to think outside the box, so they say no. But the true discovery comes when you are open to finding a solution, to be curious, to not settle, to find a way. This weekend, I was at my son's Karate tournament and I am going to share a story about being resilient and helping others find a solution.
As tournaments go in the world of sports they are difficult to put on and conduct regardless of whatever sport it is. Karate tournaments require a coach, require focus with all the distractions of music, performances, and generally people in the stands or walking around, excitement, cheering, you name it, it's all there. These tournaments last the better part of the day so there has to be a preparation beyond the physical as there is a mental component attached as well.
Here is the story that I want to share with this weekend with my youngest son, Sebastian. In this tournament my son was scheduled to compete in a kata and also sparring for his age group and black belt division. No problem, there is a lot of competitors, there is musical form katas that are being performed, weapons, artistic, traditional, sparring, team, you name it. There are also many rings in which to have these competitors perform, not to mention having to have usually 3 volunteer judges per ring. Now there are also people that are on a microphone saying what ring for competitors to be at, each age division, each belt rank, there is also the music being played for those performing their routines with music, the people in the stands, cheering or watching, there are the other competitors so it can be easy to not hear all the time what is being said via loud speaker or via a judge who perhaps just saying something with his or her voice as to who should be at the next ring. You get my point, there is a lot going on, many distractions.
Now at these events the members usually are represented by their coaches. Which is a tremendous help as the role of a coach as I define it is to provide structure, guidance, encouragement but also to protect the athletes and be their voice especially in situations like this where there is a nervousness and anxiety with each and every athlete, regardless of the status of their belt. In essence their leader. This has always been the case with my son and his dojo. However, not always the case in large tournaments like this can you pay attention to all the competitors as you are split between going to support one individual while maybe another is competing in another part of the arena.
Here is the teaching moment that presented itself to me this weekend with my son at this tournament and what I know we all want our children to be able to do. My son was waiting 5 hours and had not been called up for one of his events, we sat near the ring where we thought that he would be performing along with entire team and never heard anything, so something must have gone wrong. Did he miss the event and not hear it? Did we all miss it and not hear it? This is our responsibility, not anyone else. But here is the situation that is in front of us. I am agitated that this has occurred as this is not the only time that this has happened at one of these tournaments, keep in mind that we have been doing these for years and this happens frequently to many competitors. With so much going on, you can see how things like this can and do happen often.
I want my son to learn to be responsible and to discover for himself what happened. He is young, scared and not really sure what to do, but I want him to go and explore nonetheless. I sent him to talk to someone at the desk, the announcer who can perhaps give him an answer. Sebastian, tells him the situation and the response was that it was called, you missed it.
OK, I then tell him to go and find the Shihan that is in charge of the event, he goes to locate and doesn't find. Next solution is to find his coach and have him go with you to discover what happened and again told that it was called and missed.
Now, I am deciding how can I provide a teaching moment for my son. I take him with me, we both walk to the gentleman that was at the desk, I tell him that I wasn't looking for a refund, that I just wanted to find a solution and that one was to locate an empty ring, find 3 of the volunteers to sit there and judge the young man on his kata which is what he came to do. No awarding of a trophy, none of that matters. I just wanted to help find a solution other than leaving the site with a refund and a waste of time and a bad taste. This was done. My son was nervous as he could tell again that I was agitated but what I don't like are when adults are not always willing to find a solution. It's too easy to just say no, there was no added time, pressure or responsibility that was to be put on any of the judges or the Shihan of the event as I did not want to get the refund as was suggested, all I wanted was to have Sebastian perform and get his opportunity to do that.
The teaching point that I wanted to impart was to show my son that there is always a solution, sometimes you have to help guide others by providing them with the option so that they can realize that it's not going to inflict any additional time, commitment, or pressure on them. We then had to turn into a very diligent athlete, I had him ask question after question as to where is the next event that he is to perform, what ring is that going to be in, to then go to the table, turn in his competitor card, and ask again and again is this where it is going to be at. Now, how to provide the next teaching moment?
The next event was sparring and Sebastian had to change his focus ASAP to able to get over what he just went through and stay in the moment, to recover quickly and bounce back. This requires a bounce back mentality, next play, internal talking. I wanted him to now focus on what was in front of him, big, quick, athletes who were taller. A strategy that his coaches have provided him for years was now going to be needed to be heard. He was going to have to rely on self talk to achieve the result of scoring points. He did, he had a great event, finishing 2nd place in the sparring competition and left the building, satisfied that he was able to overcome and bounce back. He was very pleased with his performance as was I.
As a parent and as a coach that is what we are all looking for, teaching moments. Pay attention to the teaching moments that present themselves and be prepared to teach on the spot so that your athlete can perform, feeling that encouragement, support, and guidance so that they can learn from you. As a coach, as well as a parent, you are a role model. We are here to help those who are under our supervision to help them perform and learn life lessons and to discover that there is always a solution.
Pursue your Passion!