My kid’s high school coach has been making himself available for Summer practices and trainings for the past month, and is doing so for the next. About a third of the kids from last year’s teams, or those who want to move up on this year’s teams, have been attending.
He recently had a tournament in which he needed to call upon three members of the incoming freshmen class to play with the varsity kids. Consider that: you’re an incoming freshmen to a high school, and the varsity coach is already asking you to play with the varsity team. Pretty exciting, right?
Two of the kids lied and told him they had a conflict, when they were just hanging out with friends, and another had committed, but then dropped out two hours before. You can hang out with friends all Summer. But when a coach makes that kind of offer, you are choosing between two options: impress them by showing you care and want to do the work, or depress them by showing you take it for granted or don’t care to excel.
I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing or just the way I was brought up, but when a coach says they’re going to be available to anyone interested, when a teacher says they’re going to hold extra office hours for kids who need extra help, when a leader in your company is going to hold a training for anyone who wants to learn, you show up.
At a minimum, you show up because it lets them know you care. I spoke to my kid’s coach, and he has been very disappointed in the work ethic of the kids. He’s volunteering his time, and creating opportunities, but the kids aren’t taking advantage. Or, as he puts it, he’s opening the door, but they’re not walking through.
When I look back at all of the amazing, memorable, and ridiculous things I’ve seen and done in my life, each and every one was only possible because I showed up. A coach made an offer, and I took them up on it. A teacher made time, and I didn’t waste it. Someone invited me, and I made the time.
If you want to skate through life, then kick back and watch it go by. But if you want to create your own list of special times and stories you’ll always be able to tell, you have to accept the invitation. Seize the opportunity. Put down the video game controller and show up.