Parents and teachers are always saying ‘use your words’ when breaking up a kerfuffle or dealing with a frustrated child. It’s actually not an easy thing, especially for boys – our brains do not start using words well until our late forties. (Actually, brain science says it’s earlier – between 18 and 25 – but I’m still waiting for mine to kick in….)
So, when we say ‘use your words’ to young people, we have to be patient with the result. It’s an important process since it provides kids and adolescents a chance to learn how to talk things out. They learn to use their words wisely.
Know what is equally important in terms of words? Choosing them wisely.
Kate, Cole3 and I had a wonderful opportunity recently to visit the University of Virginia. A close friend gave us a behind the scenes tour of the basketball facility before a game – the practice courts, the weight room, the student services section and the men’s locker room.
It was all pretty incredible. Hey – they are ranked #1 right now – Go ‘Hoos! But it was not the sleeping pods, food choices, or entertainment options that impressed me most about the facility itself.
No, what caught my attention were words on the wall.
Full disclosure: I’ve spent a lot of time in Charlottesville and continue to be a huge fan of my alma mater. And, I knew a lot of the basketball guys and girls a (very) long time ago. But I had never seen something like this in the men’s locker room. While the teams of my time were good, they were not even close to what’s happening in C’ville now.
Watch the team play and these words are apparent – the play with passion, give the ball up unselfishly, and are grateful the opportunity. When they talk to the media or interact with fans, these words to describe how the players and coaches act.
As a group, they have all ‘bought in’ to these specific words and their actions are guided by them. And this fact, I believe, is a big part of their success both on and off the court.
Choose Your Words Wisely
There is a funny story told by Dr. Larry Arn, the president of Hillsdale College and possibly the foremost Churchillian scholars alive. At one point, his frustrated teenaged daughter said to him, “Dad, you just don’t want me to be happy!”
“Honey,” he replied, “you don’t know enough to be happy.”
Dr. Arn was talking about Aristotle and Plato’s view of ‘happy’ rather than today’s version which focuses more on amusement and entertainment. The latter definition is all well and good… for a time.
We are certainly happy and entertained at camp. But while you are having so much fun, every now and then you’ll realize that we are talking about gratitude, choosing your attitude, courage and kindness… a lot.
These are the words we’ve picked. They are the words that we look for in hiring our staff and the words we base our training on each summer. They are at the center of Weequahic and everything radiates out from that very solid, stable center.
We did not pick these words by whim. We chose them specifically to help us teach what is important and unchanging in our future.
So, how about you? What words will you choose as your center? Don’t feel you have to get it right the first time. In fact, it’s really good to try some on, walk around them in for a while, and see if your actions and emotions match up. And, the more you read and listen to those you love, the better sense you’ll get of which ones make the most sense for you.
Trust me – your future is worth the effort. Have a GACK-tastic weekend!