The U.S. Kids World Championship has always been one of my favorite events of the year here in Pinehurst. There’s nothing like watching a seven year old swing with the ease and power of an up and coming Tiger Woods and wishing I could replicate that child’s near perfect swing! My involvement this year, however, was different.
Because I was focusing on starting a new life-coaching program for senior women called The Second Blossoming, I had little contact with my favorite world championship except for a brief visit to the parade on opening night. I had two striking observations amidst all the bells, whistles, honkings, flag raisings, and national cheers.
One was watching all the winners from last year’s competition each ride in their own convertible and relish in the opportunity to be “the shining star” of the parade as they waved at the onlookers. I am used to seeing beauty queens smile and wave because that is “what they do.” As much as I know how thrilling that was for the kids, it also raised the question, “What seed of status and position is this experience planting in this child’s mind and heart? What value system will this experience cultivate and harvest somewhere down the line? Could it eventually be ‘I have worth because I win and stand out’?”
As I turned to walk to my car, my attention was riveted on an absolutely stunning big pot of flowers right in front of Susan McKenzie’s real estate office. A bouquet of flowers on steroids. A stunning collection of plants in full bloom. I came closer. My eyes were riveted on the one flower that stood above all the rest. As I peered closer, I saw a dazzling array of colors—bright orange anthems, streaks of white amidst the fuchsia petals surrounding a deep cranberry center. The flower stood tall and proud, radiating its beauty, cheered on by a host of surrounding rich forest green leaves. It was bright, perky, radiant with life, a happy plant, just like little Lucy Li at the Women’s U.S. Open.
What was so remarkable about the Opens to me was seeing a true champion in this little eleven year old who was also just a child in full bloom. While she was set apart and put on a worldwide platform because she was the youngest qualifier ever, it was obvious she was totally unaffected by all the bells and whistles of her achievement. Her platform as a star was not about her performance. It was about her uniqueness, her individuality, her wholeness as a child. She was completely unaffected by the enormity of her celebrity and her amazing ability to strike a golf ball. As such, her environment was not shaping her. Because she was free to express her individual uniqueness apart from a performance-based value system, she was influencing her environment instead. Wow! What a shining star!
I often ask parents of kids I coach, “What are you raising? A goal or a soul? Are you raising your child from the “outside-in” or the “inside-out”? From scores or character values? What is the outcome you are trying to achieve and how are your actions and values producing what you want—because every decision and action you take with your child is producing a seed that will produce a harvest, for better or for worse.”
As I sat next to Lucy’s family in her press conference, I leaned over to her mom and said, “You have done a stellar job at raising your child. She is so free to be herself and confident in her world.” Her response, “We don’t push her. We support her. It is all coming from her own desire and passion.” Ahhh!! Giving kids the freedom to bloom instead of driving them to achieve! That’s how you produce a child who can achieve without all the trappings of performance orientation. That’s how you cultivate a true champion who knows they are loved and their worth has nothing to do with their golf score.
As I left the parade that day, I had to wonder if raising a competitive athlete from a flower paradigm as opposed to a power paradigm wouldn’t be a more excellent way to shape a rising star. To have them grow a garden instead of ride as a celebrity in a car with their name plastered on the side. Just some food for thought.
Just maybe if you hug your child after that bad round or seemingly disappointing competition and let them know they are loved because they are a beautifully forming flower instead of an achiever who did not quite make the mark, we would be producing a generation of achievers who also are winners in the game of life. Wave to me Lucy Li!
Join Veronica at her next peak performance workshop at Longleaf Country Club this Tuesday at 8:00 am on how to debrief a competition. A free report on the subject is also available on her blog.