Learning Starts with “Yes”

Two recent personal examples to illustrate the point:

1. My son is not the most skilled player on his soccer team. He is a great all-around athlete and years of recreation league soccer and only a seasonal interest in the game means that he has not developed the finer skills of ball control. He is now playing on a club team which is why the skill gap has become more obvious. Most of his teammates have been playing competitive soccer for a few years and they have honed abilities that are pretty impressive. Since it’s my son’s first year on the team – and since he joined a winning team – he’s not getting much playing time; probably 15 minutes out of a 70 minute game. The progression of his attitude about it has been a wonderful thing to observe. At first, he was intimidated by his teammate’s abilities and when the ball came his way he would get rid of it as quickly as possible for fear of messing up. Now that the season is well underway it is so much fun to watch the transformation of both his attitude and his confidence. It’s not that his skills have caught-up to the other boys’, it’s how badly he wants to get in the game and how willingly he wants to contribute. About mid-way through the first half of a recent game, I heard his coach call his name, immediately followed by an emphatic, fist-pumping “Yes!” from my son.

I’m excited for his growth as a player and a person and I’m especially grateful to have such a great model of hard work and passion from someone who, like all of us, still has so much to learn.

2. We recently purchased a “lovingly used” piano we found on Craigslist. It’s in great shape and is the perfect instrument for our daughter who, after a few years of lessons and a clearly developing musical interest and ability, is ready to graduate from an electronic keyboard to a “real” piano. What we didn’t count on is that her older sister would clearly express an interest in our new piece of musical furniture, as well. She kept hanging around it and making up songs until one day I asked her, just for fun and with zero expectation, if she would like to learn how to play. To my great surprise, she said “yes.” What makes this a surprising response is that my daughter is very sensitive and cautious about trying new things. She does not want to look bad and she is deeply aware that being a beginner is a sure way to look silly. Within this context, her saying “yes” to trying out piano lessons is a pretty remarkable turn of events. It may be that she’s just being competitive with her little sister. And, it may be that she’s turned a corner in the battle to more firmly establish her self-esteem; to more confidently take on life’s slings and arrows. Whatever the reason, her courage to be a beginner is inspiring and, while unexpected, a great reminder that within each of us is the possibility of becoming something greater, if only we are willing to say “yes.”

Learning is the only path through change. To what new learning opportunity will you respond “Yes!” in the week ahead?

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