Are you driven to make a significant contribution in this world? Be original? Live authentically? Sounds cool but how do those – we admire do this successfully in their everyday life? I take a note from my teenage son’s (Dylan) world as I observe him – treading gracefully – moving upstream – against the flow. I’m not sure that he’s even aware that he’s doing it – if he knew his position – maybe, he would hesitate. I’ve watched him be an encourager when he needed to be encouraged. In particular, referring to this most recent basketball season. Yet, every practice – he would go hard and outplay those who often got more playing time than he did in the actual game. One thing I noticed, when Dylan got in the game – not matter what the scoreboard reflected, or how many minutes left in the quarter – he changed the game. This requires a mental shift, “turn it on” ability in the heat of the moment. I believe it’s cultivated by an inner thrust and his willingness to be unorthodox in his delivery.
LESSON #1 – FAILING GLORIOUSLY
In the middle of the night, I can hear Dylan’s restlessness – up late – studying while listening to music. This seems to be his melodic way of easing the tension from the demands on his life (sports, academics, college prep). It took me a moment to realize this was acceptable – that he was actually performing at peak levels with what I considered to be a distraction – music. Sometimes, we miss our rhythm not because we are offbeat but more so, off our path. Thinking too much about the right way and often smothering our instincts may compromise our sense of knowingness. As adults, we tend to settle in – avoid disruption – look for consistency – expect to be given a chance to play because we are talented and valuable. However, life is not business as usual…you must be a game changer to succeed. I borrow a term from a research scientist – we must be willing to “fail gloriously”. This comment, I must admit, startled me. Who wants to fail at anything? But I recall my HS band instructor always saying to us, “I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail then attempt to do nothing and succeed”. Here’s my interpretation on “failing gloriously” – these are moments to learn humility, compassion and possibilities – again and again.
LESSON #2 – CURIOSITY
Today, I pay tribute to Dylan – for driving my curiosity and pushing me to dig deeper by using my lack to inspire my creativity. If we look for the missing parts, we can begin to connect with ourselves, to others, to a cause and with our vision. Ultimately, we will not only change the game but we create an opportunity for others who want to play too. This is what it’s about – opening up the playing field to encourage innovators, start-ups, designers and all of those who possess an inner thrust and who want to fill in the blank spaces of our communities. The “game changers” are here – are being born everyday and coming to a town near you.