Allow Champions to be Human

Sunday Story: Allow your heroes to be human.
I didn’t expect to hear the sound of quiet sobbing as I entered Finn’s room to tuck her in. She took deep breaths trying to calm herself.
“Mom- I just don’t get it. Why didn’t Caitlin (Clark) stop to sign any autographs? I know they lost the game but that doesn’t change how great I think she is. And you said champions don’t let the scoreboard change them.”
“Because baby girl, she’s human- even champions are human.”
Thursday night I rewarded the girls with court side tickets for stepping up as leaders during BMK’s summer camps. I wanted them to watch what a team of leaders look like- especially a team led by coaches who personify the concept of leaving a legacy of integrity.
They were so excited to watch Caitlin Clark play- who is one of, if not the, best players in the country.
And I was excited to watch for moments of teamwork and leadership on the court.
Now, I’m making an assumption in saying that she didn’t play up to her personal standard during the game.
But, I’m stating as a fact that I could also list off a multitude of times I have fallen short of the standards I set for myself- my moments just aren’t televised on ESPN.
We are all human.
Leadership is hard. And athletes are expected to have the skills of a seasoned leader at a very young age.
Which is just one of the reasons I’m so passionate about bringing leadership development to athletics. Helping athletes recognize that being a champion isn’t dependent on the numbers on the scoreboard but on their actions on and off the court/field.
I took Finn through our 3 questions:
What are the facts?
What is our story?
What is unknown?
These were her answers:
1)The Hawkeyes lost the game. They all went through to the tunnel without stopping to greet the kids/sign autographs.
2)The story Finn told herself was that Caitlin was mad about losing & that is why she didn’t sign autographs.
3)She didn’t know if Caitlin was sick, or didn’t feel good, & didn’t stop because she didn’t want to get any of the kids sick. Or if the coaches had told them to go straight to the locker room. Or if she was sad about something not BB related. Or if she was just having a bad day.
What we don’t know is often more than we do/think we know.
Finn’s voice shifted and softly said,
“Mom- it must be really hard to have bad moments with so many strangers watching you. And have people want things from you when maybe you just want to be alone.”
Yes it would.
We have to live in the “and”.
It is possible to fall short of the expectations we hold for ourselves AND have grace for ourselves AND learn from our shortcomings, carrying forward the lesson and leaving the rest behind.
We have to allow ourselves and others to not just be human but celebrated for being human NOT superhuman.
Finn sighed as she relaxed into her pillow, listing off what is in her control and what isn’t, ending with one final wish- to go to another game and not expect anything from the players, just cheer for them.
They are playing again as I type this and the scoreboard and teamwork reflects the leadership of the team- and their ability to move forward. A team of leaders.

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