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There was a big gymnastics competition in Rhode Island the other night. The OSSG Classic at Twin River Casino is one of the largest 25 competitions in the country. It was an exciting and loooonnng night. Those of you who have gymnasts in your family know what I mean.
The competition progresses basically the same at every meet–including the Olympics. There are four events: bars, beam, vault, and floor. Teams progress through each event until everyone is finished. Scores are then tallied and awards and trophies are presented to the top scoring athletes. My daughter spent two years at her previous level. She won first places and trophies and medals on a pretty consistent basis. She naturally progressed and she was moved up a level this year. Now, she is the “new kid.” She is one of the youngest on the team and one of the newest on the team. The girls are very sweet and supportive(which is a rarity these days). Her coaches are a talented group of caring individuals who genuinely care about their athletes. I can’t say enough positive things about Ocean State School Of Gymnastics in general. It is a wonderful gym. So, what’s the problem?
Olivia placed in two of four categories the other night. She came in fourth on beam and fourth on floor overall. That is a great accomplishment since there were at least ten teams in the competition. She did not, however, place in bars or vault. She did not place for overall score. She got two medals. She did not receive a trophy. She was incredibly upset and disappointed. I can understand the frustration. It isn’t easy to go from winning all the time to occasionally receiving recognition for your achievements. But, I explained to her that you can’t just stand still. You can’t accept last year’s placement as your full potential. You should strive to be better. You have to strive to do better, to be bigger, to do more. If she wants to be able to learn more tricks and twists, she needs to move up the ranks. It takes time, dedication, and hard work. I have no doubt she will get there.
I also started to think that maybe her feelings are a tiny bit society in general’s fault. Let me explain. When I was little, you tried out for a team. If you weren’t good enough, you didn’t make it–simple as that. We had three places at the end —-first, second, and third. We did not start at tenth place–do you get what I’m saying? Not everyone got a trophy. Not everyone got a medal “just for trying.” It was competitive. Somehow, somewhere, we got away from that because we didn’t want to hurt feelings. But, that is life. you don’t always get an award just for trying. You shouldn’t receive just because you put your hand out(ok, that’s a political view, but it fits), you should not get an “A” for effort. Let’s stop “dumbing down” our society.
Gymnastics is one of the few sports that still adheres to the “old school”. If you are great, you are rewarded. If you don’t place, go back to the gym and work harder so you can place next time. I fully agree with this philosophy.
I love my daughter and I am proud of her no matter how many medals she takes home. She knows that. But, she’s a perfectionist(like her mom & dad) and fourth place will never be good enough for her. So, good for her! She will try harder for the State meet next month. She’ll probably be one of those “A” people Steve Jobs surrounded himself with in his life.
But, there is another adage here that I wanted to get across to Olivia. Sometimes, no matter how much you try and how much you work, you just don’t win. You really can’t win them all. And, THAT’S OK!!!! Learn to accept disappointments and take them in stride. You will be a stronger person for it. She’s only nine years old, but she hears me. She will succeed. She will do her best next month. I have a feeling she’ll come back with more than fourth place. And, if by some chance she doesn’t, we are proud of her anyway. Happy Shopping:)