There are many kinds of poverty.
During the MLB National League Championship Series, I have observed a stark demonstration of poverty: the very impoverished behavior of an exceptional individual. He is talented, capable, skilled and highly paid. But, by the way he plays and the way he behaves, he shows a deep, deep poverty. He is impoverished in character.
The both fortunate and unfortunate thing about character is that it’s consistent. How one speaks, behaves, performs, and responds all tend to point in a single direction. They follow the same course, here, there and everywhere. As I have heard it expressed, “We are the same in every room.”
The both good and bad thing about character is that it is learned. Not necessarily taught, but learned. We learn it from the people, places and opportunities around us. We are shaped by our circumstances, environments, boundaries and consequences. In these, we are guided or we are not. We learn from these. We are shaped by these. For good or not.
If we are well-guided, we are propelled, as far as our talents will take us and beyond this, by our character which carries us. But if we are not well guided, if we get a “pass” on poor behavior or are excused because of “extenuating circumstances” when we are young and formative, then the results are often grim.
I have been watching grim in the NLCS.
Let’s take this All-American opportunity in the celebration of our national past time to address this truth: an excellent rating in the skills portion while dismissing the failing grade earned in spirit of the game is the worst kind of poverty.
If life’s teachers, coaches, mentors, guardians, parents, friends and colleagues issue us a smile and a pass because we’re “gifted,” while it may seem harmless, it may be the greatest of tragedies. For, if life allows us to get a failing grade in relationships, we fail at life. Because, in the end, it’s all we have. Or we don’t.
There are many kinds of poverty. There are many who are in need. Who missed Manny?
Every now and then there’s something that captures “all” of you in a single place. It speaks who you are, what you believe, and how you operate into one expression. It funnels you.
In the story I posted last week on the Fit2Finish website (my “professional” zone) has funneled me. A coach has ushered me in to the heart and soul he put into growing young men and women into creative, grateful, thriving young adults. The arena for the adventure was youth soccer fields and the duration, 47 seasons over nearly 20 years.
The power behind this coach’s success lay in his self-imposition of one boundary: he didn’t cut anyone, ever. Every child was included and nothing they did was irredeemable. He mentored each one, according to their need, and that shaped a community he could never have foreseen or imagined into one from which he continues to reap incredible joy.
God is not mentioned and yet Christ resounds.
I hope you’ll read the article The Secret Behind Coach Chas Sumser’s Success. If you enjoy it, please subscribe to the Fit2Finish email “share” to receive weekly posts offered to the sporting community.
It’s my way of giving back to youth sports in thanks for what they (and their coaches) began in me as a child and continue to show me in new and amazing ways.
Thank you for reading.
There are so many ordinary people leading extraordinary lives out there and they don’t even know it. I got to spend a couple precious hours with one yesterday. By day, he worked in human resources and was happily married to his beautiful college sweetheart, and afternoons he spent with his soccer teams. Well, not now, because his last team had all just graduated from high school. He had sent them on their merry way. After 17(!) seasons. And before this group, he had coached a group for 20(!) seasons.
In two hours, we hardly got the pleasantries out of the way before I started hearing names, seeing pictures on his phone and their collective Facebook page, and then was privy to descriptions, not of events, really, but of moments. Moments that meant everything. I knew immediately because he told me the stories. One after another, they just came tumbling out. I’m not sure that even he knew they were stored there, waiting for someone to open a space where he might put them.
Such is the power of asking and then listening. Such a gift, this sharing of space between two ordinary humans. Somehow when two are gathered in this way, there is something very much more.
Thank you, Chas.