I attended a conference today, and had the great opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with the guest speaker. This conference was about instilling character based service learning in schools. The program was put on by an organization that determines whether or not schools meet criteria to be considered “Schools of Character”. A big title for a school to have. Many requirements have to be met in order to be considered for such a title and hear I am with the representative with this company. The opportunity to collaborate with great minds is one of my favorite things to do, and I had the opportunity to do that today.
It came up in conversation that I have a passion for teaching character to youth using sports as a platform, and she mentioned that she would be speaking next week to a group of students at a school about exactly that topic. She posed a question to me, she asked “If you could pass along one message to those adolescents in that room, what would it be?”
Wow… one message to a group of teenagers and pre-teens about character.
If I had could choose only one, it would be this… the ball is in your court.
Teenagers need to know that they are given tools everyday to either build up, or demolish the morale of those around them. Everyday they are given opportunities to strengthen their relationships with teammates, or lose the trust of their teammates. They have the ability to make their team great by building strong relationships. Coaches can set the framework, but ultimately, it is up to the members of that team to take those tools and make something great with them. No member is greater than the team, but teams will be no greater than that of the character of it’s members.
Teenagers don’t realize the power they carry in the locker-room, lunchroom, classroom and hallways of their schools. Their teammates are watching what they do, how they act and how they perform. If you are seen skipping out on a drill or loafing, that will set the standard for that team. We have all seen exceedingly talented teams falter due to lack of leadership on the team. We have also seen otherwise average teams do great things with great leaders. Teenagers need to know that they have the power. They can make a team go from good to great. They can set the standard of excellence for those around them. Teams aren’t made up of best friends, but they are made up of members that have each others back. Teammates should be able to be trusted and it starts with their actions toward one another. If you have conflict or mistrust on a team, your team will suffer.
So, who are you when you think no one is watching? Are you being the best teammate you can be at all times? Your legacy is contagious, for the good, or for the bad, it’s contagious, so be careful what you are spreading.
One last thing to remember, the average attention span of a teenager is 10 minutes…