A Freedom I'm Thankful For More and More

        Happy Fourth of July to all of Win Now Nation!  As I sit in my house this morning I have no choice but to think about what the Fourth means to me and what it represents.  First, it is a great reminder of what an amazing country we are fortunate enough to live in.  People have risked their lives just for the opportunity to live in the United States, and that alone speaks to the greatness of the country.  Second, I am thankful for all of those who have fought for our freedom and to protect it.  They are largely nameless and faceless which means they are easy to take for granted for a concrete thinker like myself.  Thank you to all the men and women, past, present, and future, for protecting us.  Third, I think of some of the freedoms that make our country so special and how they connect to me and where I am in professional venture.  One, in particular stands out.

         The right that I have been feeling more of a connection to lately is freedom of speech, or more specifically, the freedom to believe whatever we want.  As I started to learn about sport psychology, I believed everything I read.  This was easy at first because I was starting from scratch.  It wasn't unlike people across the world who create beliefs based on the information they are presented with.  It's natural human behavior but can be dangerous when the information you're exposed to only comes from a specific source.  For example, if Twitter is your only source for ANYTHING, imagine the skewed perception of reality you get!  Just the other day, I stumbled on a Twitter handle advertising itself as a source of quotes for someone widely accepted as one of the greatest within the field of sport psychology.  Although the concept is outstanding, the account it littered with quotes that are not from the person.  How dangerous!  If that account is someone's only exposure to sport psychology, they are getting an extremely warped sense of what it is about.

        With the progression through my degree program, talking with people within the field and coaches, and reading LOTS of books, I've been fortunate enough to move past this initial phase of accepting everything I read as ultimate truth.  The experience has created the challenge of deciding what I believe and to what extent.  It has been difficult and has forced me to completely reassess major parts of what I initially thought was my philosophy on sport psychology.  It has also resulted in the temptation to write off those who disagree with me.  In really any part of life, this is a challenge.  We tend to choose to be around people who believe the same things as us.  I think the thought is especially true as we are new to anything.  I can remember my early days as a teacher and coach.  I would say something with the soul purpose of others echoing what I thought to make myself feel better.  A sense of comfort comes from others reinforcing our beliefs.  By only talking with people who think like us, however, we are missing a tremendous opportunity for growth.  Discussing topics with people who disagree with us forces us to think about the reasons behind whatever we believe.  It forces us to contemplate our "Why?"  If the discussion takes places with an open mind, then we are better off.  Some of my favorite students to teach are kids who I would have never been friends with when I was in high school.  They are people I have great admiration for because of their courage to be themselves and be different thinkers at such a young age.  I love it when people think differently.  Some educators/coaches take it personally, but I embrace the challenge (at least sometimes)!

        In closing, I am reminded of a great quote by a guy named Voltaire.  He is one of the contributors to a period in history called The Enlightenment.  Voltaire said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."  Outstanding and really what our military is doing on a daily basis.  This is an oversimplification of so much, but I encourage you to understand it is okay to disagree with others.  Challenge yourself to get something out of the experience of disagreement, and force yourself to grow.  I will be challenging myself to do the same.  Everybody have a great Fourth of July, and celebrate all that is good in our country and it's people!

  
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Comments

  1. I love when my students challenge me, too! That's when the learning really happens--for my students and for me. How stifled and boring would our world be if we all thought the same way? Respectful engagement and an understanding that we won't always agree are keys to growth and progress.

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  2. Thanks for the response Susanne! I agree with you 100%. As much as we may say, "If only I had 30 of So and So in my class," it would be incredibly boring if we did. Your students are lucky to have you! #WinNow

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