Lessons in losing and winning…..

Our lives are quite hectic this last week and into the foreseeable future. Last weekend we had a super busy weekend with a birthday, a church council meeting, the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby, evening cake and ice cream, and basement work. This weekend has been no different with my older daughter going to a play last night, some basement furniture shopping and dinner by the rest of us, an all day tae kwon do tournament for my son, and a church confirmation mentor sponsorship by me and my oldest daughter this evening. And on top of that I fly out of here early tomorrow morning to go back to corporate for some systems training and meetings. So blog posting has taken an obvious back seat — and will probably continue to do so.

One post that I did not write was from last week’s Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Even though I was in scouts from a wee lad to high school, I never participated in one of these events. Not only was this my son’s first PW Derby, it was also mine. I had also heard that some people participating can be quite hard core competition-wise. So we approached the building of his car with casual craftsmanship. In addition, I had taken my scale over to the pre-race setup so we couldn’t even build the car to the specifications of 5 ounzes. We did pay pretty good attention to paint though. My son thought up the paint scheme and I laid out the tape so his painting lines would be perfect. He spent Saturday morning (the PW derby was at 5pm) laying on coats of paint interchanging with my wife’s hair dryer to speed up the whole process. By the time we had to leave for my noon church council meeting we had a pretty cool looking ride.

So fast forward through church administration business and you have us speeding to the scout event. We went down to “the pits” to weigh our creation and make any tweaks. It turns out our weight was WAY off — only 3.25 ounzes. A scout leader took us under his wing (thanks Doug!) and gave us a few pointers to adding weights and positioning them for maximum effect. We added them to the side to make them look like side exhaust pipes — pretty cool if you ask me! From there we took the car up and checked in with a few minutes to spare.

The heats and races became an all evening event and my son’s car would come down the track incline in 1st or 2nd but the lead would taper off as the other cars’ momentum put him in average 3rd and 4th places. It was cool to see all the other cars — the creativity in looks and themes and the creativity in competitiveness for speed.

The scouts did a good job of having lots of trophies for all the different categories and dens. And for those who didn’t get a trophy, they received a ribbon. I thought that was pretty decent and in the spirit of the scouts. However, my son was a little upset as we left and go in the car. He was crying that he didn’t get a trophy. I consoled him but also wanted this to be a good learning lesson for him. You see, he (we) didn’t put much effort into the car — surely not enough to compete on the level that others were there for. It was a fun event but I explained that not everyone could get a trophy. The reasons trophies are cool is because they stand for something special. If they gave everyone a trophy, they wouldn’t be as special. I told him that if he wanted a trophy that bad, that he had to work harder to earn it — either by being more creative and making an extra special cool car or by researching ways to make a car faster down the track. Those options on the road to trophy-dom require effort, commitment, discipline and hard work. It really depended on how bad he wanted a trophy.

This little speech did little to sooth his hurt feelings but, again, this is a really good lesson to learn early in life. Trophies and everything else in life that is special just aren’t handed to you. You have to work hard and earn them. So I used last week’s lesson as a motivator for his tae kwon do tournament.

Right now my son is more passionate about tae kwon do than scouting (which makes sense because he’s been doing it a year longer). While I think he could have spent more time this week practicing, he did spend time going through his practice breaks, speaking the descriptive part to the judges, and working on his moves. During the tournament, he disregarded our suggestions prior to his breaks (bow before the judges, speak loudly and clearly). While I think he did pretty good, he could have done better with more practice and open ears. He did not place for the break competition. So when the sparring competition came up, I reminded him of his lack of listening to our suggestions. This time I told him that when he sparred he needed to concentrate on blocking and attacking (and NOT to run away or back up as he has done in class). He apparently listened to this because he won his first match. His second match was with a larger kid who had a kick move…..but that was it. My son got to where he could block it and did get a point or two but never took control of the match once he neutralized the other opponent’s threat. He finally got tired and missed a few blocks on the opponent’s kick and they landed scoring points. He lost the match but I was proud of him for his effort. He ended up getting second place for his kids division and received a medal for his efforts. I congratulated and hugged him letting him know how proud I was of him. However, I also took the opportunity later on in the afternoon to equate the results with the efforts he put forth in comparison with the Pinewood Derby. I also told him that he probably could have won the second match if he had practiced more as I had suggested during the week. All in all he was happy with his silver medal. And I am glad that we can learn the lesson of losing and winning from different perspectives. It is an important life lesson.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net