At some point I turned inward and realized that it wasn’t about how good I was compared to others. I felt that I had not even come close to my own potential, and that made me feel empty. Like I was wasting the talent I had been given. I realized that comparing myself to others was a fatally flawed strategy, and I decided I would not let my son fall into the same trap.
My initial approach to helping Mikan achieve his potential was to push him harder. We practiced harder, and I never missed an opportunity to tell him that I expected more from him. As his coach, I was more critical of Mikan than I was with the other kids on the team.
I wasn’t helping my son achieve his potential, I was just being another obnoxious sports dad and ruining my son’s love of baseball – and to an extent our relationship – in the process.
I knew that what I was doing wasn’t helping and that I wasn’t connecting with my son on a meaningful level. I wasn’t giving him the “why” behind the push to achieve his potential, because I couldn’t articulate it myself. I backed off and gave Mikan his space while I struggled to find the right words to help him understand why I was pushing him.
One day I realized that I myself have never responded to being pushed – I’ve always been self-motivated by intrinsic rewards. Why did I ever think that pushing my son would be a good idea? He has to want to reach his potential…he has to learn to push himself.
This is an excerpt from 40@40: The Only Person You’re in Competition With is Yourself.
In celebration of my 40th birthday, I decided to write 40 blog posts to reflect on 40 of the most important lessons I have learned throughout my life. You can follow the full series here: