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Meaningful Work

When you have solved the problem of controlling the attention of the child, you have solved the entire problem of (his/her) education. Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori believed the key to education was discovering what motivates the child. What intrigues them, captures their imagination and calls them to care.

We all know the most meaningful work we do is that which we care about. We will go the proverbial extra mile when we realize our work will be impactful and certainly when it helps others.

Do you believe great works of music, art, engineering, entrepreneurship, etc. happen by circumstance? Or, are they the bi-product of meaningful and inspired creation? When we are inspired and chasing our passions, we are capable of far more and willing to scale obstacles otherwise considered impossible.

As a coach and father, I have seen first hand the lengths to which young people will go to pursue their passions. One of my junior high players asked me to come to a Civil Air Patrol meeting. He showed me a large chart which displayed the ranks he needed to achieve to get to the top of this nationwide organization. He told me if he became one of 5 people in the country to achieve the top rank he would be guaranteed a spot at the Air Force Academy.

I recognized his passion was to be a fighter pilot. It was my role as his coach and guide to support his passion. Over the course of seven years, he missed practices and games to pursue his passion. However, I never had to question whether what he was doing was meaningful.

As a coach, I often ask if a player’s work is meaningful. I design drills, schedule opponents, etc. so as to be engaging and inspire them to push through difficult situations. I am not interested in comparing them to their peers because I know meaningful work produces meaningful results. I encourage players to be continually improving. I know they will work harder and push through obstacles if their goals are aligned with their passions.

As a young parent, I worried about our children’s use of electronics and computer games. I remember one of the first computer games we allowed our kids to play. It was a game whereby the player moved to levels by overcoming different types of logic obstacles (albeit as a rabbit). I could not get past level two. I felt as though we had wasted our money as certainly my eight year old son was not going to be able to play without my assistance.

Several weeks later he shared with me how he had progressed to level 10. I was floored! He was passionate about solving the logical challenges. He was fortunate I did not share his passion because helping him would have only detracted from his accomplishment.

As coaches, we should do our best to get out of the way. We want to set the stage, step back and then watch young players blow us away with their skills and inspired meaningful work.


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