Saturday, August 25, 2018

My Hope for the 2018-2019: Failure

"Sweet 16" at St. Ignatius College Prep is underway, as the first day of the 2018-2019 school year commenced on Friday, August 24. 2018. Yes, we start school on a Friday. Yes, people think that's strange. Yes, I love starting on the last day of the work week. Why? that first day of school is pro forma. Though I still get a little nervous (which I think is a good thing), the day largely feels like a ritualized song and dance. Students walk into the classroom bright eyed and bushy tailed, wondering where they will sit and which one of their friends or trusted classmates are in the same course. I have my talking points, I do what I can to extend a warm and personal welcome and I let them know a little bit about who I am and what we will study. This year, I decided I wanted to leave them with but one hope and expectation for the course: to fail. 
If you are a parent those words should be of major concern. If you are a student, that "F" word is an injustice. Are you an administrator? Yes, I want my job. If you are an educator, you might be wondering if cynicism has eaten my heart and corrupted my soul. However, if you are an athlete—especially a golfer—maybe you have at least a small sense of where I am coming from. Indeed Sports and Spirituality have taught me the power and the good of my hope and expectation for the new school year—a lesson that is articulated best by a young man, in an unlikely setting, and in an unsuccessful place. 
"Going the Extra Length" produced by CBS Sunday Morning is a story about how we might become successful people. Their website states: 
The swim coach of Seguin High School in Arlington, Texas, says you can't overstate the underachievement of his school's swim team; he measures success by his athletes not getting disqualified. So when Gerald Hodges – a pretty-good athlete who couldn't swim – joined up, it was because he couldn't bear not being good at something. Steve Hartman talked with Hodges about how he was able to measure success in the final lap.
I hope that you will watch this story and live by the words of Gerald this year. 
I hope my students and my golfers learn how to handle NOT being good at something. I hope they find themselves failing and when they do, I want them to work hard, listening to others, ask for help from their teachers, parents, and coaches, and realize what they are made of to improve, get better and grow stronger. Who knows where that can and will take them....

So before the bell rang, I reminded my students of what Steve Hartman said, "Setting yourself up for failure is actually the key to success, especially if you can somehow master your weakness." It's going to be a great year!

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