OK, I have not written anything in over a year. My fault and nobody else’s. Anyways, I have at least one thing on my mind based on some recent observations. Hopefully some of you parents, especially the dads out there, can relate.
Comparison Between Olympics and NFL Hall of Fame
As of this writing the 2016 summer olympics are in full swing in Rio. My wife and I have enjoyed watching Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles rack up gold medals and share genuine joy in their accomplishments.
We also watched the recent NFL Hall of Fame ceremony. Among the inductees were Kevin Greene and Brett Favre. While they may seem unrelated I would like to draw a parallel between them.
Although I am a big fan of the Green Bay Packers and Brett’s very emotional, heartfelt speech, the speech by Kevin Greene made a bigger impression on me.
Kevin Greene’s first point: Thanks Dad
For those unfamiliar with the player, Kevin Greene was a walk-on at Auburn University who played linebacker. He went on to have an terrific career in the NFL and ranked in the top five, all time, of sack leaders. Those that know him best say he was always full of energy and played with a lot of pride and determination.
In his speech, Kevin started out by explaining that he was the son of an Army colonel and one of 4 kids. He mentioned that his family moved around from various military bases every 3 to 5 years. Kevin’s father volunteered to be either the cub scout leader or assistant cub scout leader when Kevin and his brother were very young.
As the boys grew and took interest in various sports, Kevin’s dad again volunteered at various times to be either the head coach or assistant coach of little league baseball teams or football teams.
Then Kevin stated that every morning and every night he, his siblings, and his parents would gather around the table and share a meal. Then Kevin looked out at the crowd, looked at his father, and thanked him for the sacrifices he made across the years. The camera zoomed in on the retired colonel and it was obvious he was deeply touched by his son’s words.
Olympic Gold: Lots of Hours Devoted to a Few Minutes
Watching the Olympics, I love to see the video of parents, spouses, friends, etc in the bleachers cheering for their loved one. The majority of us will never understand the sheer volume of hours that the contestants devoted to preparing for their particular event. And then, in the case of gymnastics, swimming, diving, track and field, and many other events, the actual competition may only last a few seconds to maybe a few minutes. All of that sacrifice, hard work, toil and sometimes brutal mental conditions comes down to a brief few minutes that will live forever in history.
When it is all over, and the contestants realize they have won, it is common for them to look into the crowd to find the face of their loved ones and share this moment of glory. Often times the contestant will likely go to the bleachers and find their family to get a hug and celebrate for a brief moment.
Often times we parents, especially dads, wonder if we are making any kind of difference in the world. We go to work, take care of the house, spend times with our family and try to pursue a hobby or two but in the back of our mind we ask ourselves “Do I matter?” or maybe we say “Am I doing anything that matters?”
Unless you are a brain surgeon, or police officer, or firefighter, you could easily say “I am just a __________(fill in blank with your occupation) who is trying to make ends meet. Nobody really notices what I am doing and nobody understands the sacrifices I am making.”
The next time you feel this way, think about Colonel Greene and his son. Colonel Greene was just doing his job. Going to work, spending time with the family, helping out with cub scouts and little league and doing all of the things that so many of us do. But his son noticed. His efforts had a significant impact on one person.
Just like the person competing to be an Olympian, the long hours of sacrifice, alone, quietly, will one day result in something much bigger than you. You may not ever see further than others, but to coin the phrase from Isaac Newton, you could be the giant that allows another person to stand on your shoulders and see things never before seen.