Dial-Up Your Son's Improvement

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  It simply means that greatness takes time.  It’s a plea for patience, and it’s the truth, too – sometimes the only way something great or important can be built is through a long, slow process.  The problem is, today we’re living in a world that’s moving in the opposite direction.

 Our culture today values speed, ease, and convenience.  You might call it a microwave society.  What we want today, we can usually get right away.  Almost everything is faster, easier, and more convenient than it’s ever been.  We’ve been trained to expect that things will be done in this fashion.  When they aren’t, it can be easy to lose our patience or label something  ineffective or obsolete.  Need an example?  Take a minute and think back to the early days of dial-up internet.  Remember that long, slow process?  First, you’d click on the internet icon.  Then you’d wait while it loaded.  Then you’d hit the ‘Connect’ button, and then some more waiting.  There was the dialing, then the waiting.  Then the clicking sounds.  Then more waiting.  Then the screeching noise.  Then, after even more waiting, finally the connection.  Maybe you’ve forgotten the struggle that was the dial-up connection.  Looking back, it was brutal.

 In reality, though, the dial-up connection wasn’t brutal back in the internet’s infancy because that’s just the way things were – it was the reality of how the process worked.  It seems difficult now because we’ve come to expect the speed, ease, and convenience of today’s wifi.  Back then, I didn’t lose my mind when it took forever to get online.  I’d probably sit patiently and wait for the connection to be established, or maybe go do something else while I waited.   It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’m irritable if the internet connects even a little slowly today, or if my ability to load or stream something isn’t immediate.

It’s important for each of us to understand that in this world of speed and convenience, there are still some important things that can’t be built in a day or achieved in the blink of an eye.  If you’re working to raise your son to become a champion athlete and man in today’s culture, you’ll have to accept that his growth and development can’t happen overnight.

If you are really interested in helping your son reach his full potential, both on the athletic field and beyond, then you’d better see clearly the long process that it entails.  There are a number of skills he’s going to need in order to become his best, and none of them will be magically bestowed on your son with the snap of a finger.  This includes both the important physical and mental abilities of a champion athlete.  The ability to overcome adversity, for instance, like we wrote about in last week’s newsletter, is a great example.  It takes time to develop resilience – a long process of trying, failing, learning, understanding, responding, growing, and eventually, improving. 

Your son can get there – I hope you see that he must! – but he’s only going to get there one way:  the long way.  Think of it like this:  your responsibility is to help him get all that he needs in order for him to become his very best – to help him try, to fail, to learn, to understand, to respond, to grow, and eventually, to improve –  but that download is only available through a dial-up connection.  It’s going to be a long, and slow, and sometimes painful process – especially when you’re used to easy, quick, and convenient.  He will get there, if you see to it, but only one small step at a time.  If you understand this reality and embrace this process, then you can use the experiences in his life today to help him get better.  Most of all, you can enjoy knowing that he is improving, and that you’re helping him do it.

Living in and focusing on a process of growth and development, in any area of our lives, requires that we balance an urgent dedication to today without the patience required for the long haul.  No matter his age, there are important, meaningful lessons existing in the experiences your son has today, lessons that can and must be used to move him forward on his journey toward his very best.  At the same time, you must remain patient and dedicated to the process.  You’ve got to be relentless today in helping your son take one step forward on a journey that lasts many miles. 

That’s why raising a champion isn’t easy work.  Like many people unwilling to do the necessary work, I can bail on the process anytime.  I can lose patience, get irritated, or label the whole thing ineffective or obsolete.  I have that right, just like you do.  But bailing on the process means accepting the fact that my son won’t reach his potential.  It also means accepting the fact that I’m part of the reason why.

So work hard to help your boy understand the value of the process.  It’s harder than ever for kids to understand the reality of what greatness requires, so it’s our job to help them.  Remember, your boy never knew life with a dial-up connection.  The priorities in the world of today’s young people, even more than the rest of us, are built around convenience, speed, and immediacy.  Most kids today are trained to believe that if Rome wasn’t built in a day, then it’s probably because the guys building it must have stunk at building.  It’s my job to help my son understand the truth:  that sometimes a long, slow process is the only way we can build something really important.  And that you, son, are really important.


Sign up to receive the free Higher Level Newsletter here.