Time for quiet contemplation
Posted by Dean Holden at March 24th, 2013
by Kevin Hartzell, 21 March 2013
I continue to remain passionate about leadership. In the past year I have begun to put on leadership clinics for kids and young adults. It has never been more needed. We see occurrences of the lack of leadership almost daily on the news.
This winter we have some seen some of these occurrences within the Minnesota high school sports scene. Recently we have seen play out on the national news scene a more serious occurrence with an Ohio drinking party involving a bunch of young teens, including some of their local high school football team members and an intoxicated young teenage girl leading to a possible rape. There are studies that report that as many as one in four women are being sexually and/or physically assaulted. This should lead us all to asking the question as to why this is happening.
Our sports teams are the perfect place to teach and reinforce the leadership and great teammate skills needed for a great functioning team (and this includes a great functioning society). I think we all know this to be true and is one of the many reasons many of us want our young people to participate in team sports. As much as we may all agree with this as a reason for youth sport, it seems that this valued message to our young people is at times being lost.
In my study of leadership, one of the very important concepts that is maybe lost more today than ever before is one of quiet contemplation. It wasn’t many years ago that many of us found boredom a part of everyday life. We had limited time to watch one of three TV channels. We were often told to go play outside by parents looking for their own solitude.
More importantly, we often had a lot of quiet time or what today we call boredom, a concept abhorred by our younger generation. Back then, we were free from outside intrusion to be bored, to listen to ourselves and listen to our own thoughts. We had more time to dream and more time to be. When a coach or a parent gave us instruction or advice, we had time to think about what their words and advice meant to us. I remember sitting in our apple tree beside our house in St. Paul able to think and dream and to better understand who I was and what I stood for.
Which gets me to today’s young people. At an ever-increasing rate, kids are not so free to be bored or quiet. Even in a child’s bedroom where there should be quiet, our young people are often entertained by a television or music or video game of some kind. None of these things are bad in themselves, but they do take away from the opportunity to have a quiet mind.
I have no doubt that today’s young people have more tools at their ready and more access to good information than did any generation before them. The real key is what one does with this information. Do we really quiet our mind and absorb the message from a parent or a coach/teacher? Then do we ask ourselves over and again how we really think about that message and even how it might work into our lives? Do we think about what these values mean to each of us and maybe even how we might act on these values should we be put into a situation that requires us to lead. One cannot lead if they don’t know what they believe.
This group of boys in Ohio, some of them members of their high school football team, gave no thought to dehumanizing this young and obviously intoxicated girl. They took pictures on their phones of this intoxicated girl which in today’s world get posted online and/or shared from machine to machine. Had none of these boys, the product of our teams and our coaching, ever considered the ramifications of such stupid and immoral behavior? Had none of these boys and even girls close to the tragic event ever once thought about who they were and what they stood for? Has none of them really never been mentored or coached on how to treat another human being, especially one that it is a vulnerable position? Maybe some did not have the confidence or the strong moral fiber to challenge others maybe more popular than themselves – not an uncommon issue especially with young people. Many had a chance to be heroic in doing the right thing and coming to the aid of this young lady. Judging by the news accounts, many failed in this regard.
So I wonder, are we teaching and preaching values that matter? Are we asking our kids to be better than what the movies, TV and video games role model as funny or extreme or cool male behavior?
Most importantly, our sports teams are the perfect place to teach that no matter your status on the team or in society, from most gifted to least gifted, everyone has a role. No one is beyond the values of the team or society it serves. We need to teach and expect a strong moral fiber in our young boys in our open and free society we expect them to serve. Any of us may be in a position to fall at times, but with great teammates, we hold each other accountable to that higher standard. That is what good friends and good teammates do for one another; they make each other better and more accountable.
If we are not teaching these life lessons first and foremost on our sports teams, then what is the point to being on a team? If we are not teaching these lessons first and foremost, then shame on us for when these things happen, when young people behave badly or grow into adults and cheat as a politician or on Wall Street or in their corporate culture. Shame on us for the statistics that say one in four of our mothers, sisters and daughters are being sexually assaulted. We need to teach and mentor our young people and especially our young boys about their importance to our society and the strong expectations we have for each of them and for their role of becoming the MEN we all need them to be.
Values matter. It starts with parenting and then is reinforced by our coaches, teachers and mentors. Our young people then also need time to reflect on these values in their quiet time, which is more limited than ever before. We need to hold ourselves as adults accountable to better teach the values that matter and allow our young people (or if needed, require our young people) the time to be quiet and actually think about what these values mean to them and how they might someday act if their duty to their fellow man is called upon. We are seeing way too many instances where we are failing.