The one path that never works is the most common one: doing nothing at all. – Seth Godin, Tribes
Why are we so afraid of risk? Probably because we make ourselves believe that what we have is better than the risk involved with getting what comes with change. Plus, there’s never any guarantees that what change brings will actually be better than what you’ve already got. However, the thing that change brings is rarely as good in the beginning as what is already here. It takes time and if you expect the new thing to be better or successful right away than you’ll never begin. Without the willingness to take a risk, there is no change. That is why it’s called a leap of faith. And where would the human race be if it wasn’t for numerous leaps of faith over time.
And so we settle. Settling is a bad habit that takes you down the path to mediocrity. Honestly, who wants to be mediocre? So many unhappy people are a product of their efforts to preserve the status quo and actively attempt to resist change. As I mentioned in my last post, religion then gets in the way of faith. Stuck gets in the way of momentum. Rules get in the way of principles.
We are so lucky. Think about all those around us with not enough to eat, or without the chance to get an education. Advantages. Opportunities. With what we’ve got, how can we dare to defend the status quo? What improvidence. Therefore, we should all feel obligated not to settle.
Heretics don’t settle. Life is way too short. Yes, creating change takes a mountain of energy. Preserving mediocrity can take just as much. Why waste the energy and the one life you have being and doing what’s average?
Seth Godin, author of Tribes, describes this as not colouring inside the lines. Godin says,
“Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. If it were any other way, it would be easy. And if it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would be devalued.”
The realization that the customer, in community youth sport, is not always right because they do not understand the concept of developmental appropriateness is a fine example of a genuine insight that will always be met with resistance. No parent wants to be told they don’t understand what is best for their child. Community sport organizations that give parents what they want (even if it isn’t developmentally appropriate) are choosing to colour inside the lines. They fear what those parents will do with their membership dollars if they don’t.
Unfortunately many parents of youth sport participants don’t understand the need for developmentally appropriate programming. Nor do many youth sport organizations. Parents ask organizations to give them what they want. Organizations comply. What they get is what has always been done and done the way it always has been done. Hey, it worked fine for them when they were kids so if it was good enough for mum or dad it’s good enough for junior.
But creating developmentally appropriate programming that works is a challenging mission because there is so little of it around. While we know it is the right thing to do, we end up creating from scratch the programs which means many trials and tribulations. When a program that attempts to be developmentally appropriate fails, the typical response is to say that it didn’t work and that the old way is better. And at that point, there are plenty of organizations around waving us over to their programs saying that they do it the right way because they are sticking to what has always been done.
For someone that doesn’t understand developmental appropriateness, that situation can be very convincing. For an organization that doesn’t understand the need for developmental appropriateness, that situation can be down right scary when you see your members leaving to go for what they are familiar and have comfort with.
Greatness comes from conquering fear and not colouring inside the lines. The only true sign of greatness is an organization’s willingness to not be great along the way. In doing what is right for the participants (and not necessarily popular for the adult egos involved) you risk failure. This tolerance of failure on the journey to reaching the bigger goal is the true secret of success. Tolerance requires faith. Success takes commitment. Commitment takes time. This requires more faith than most organizations I have seen have been willing to commit.
If a community sport organization requires success before commitment it will never have either and will spend its time flip-flopping between numerous watered down visions for player development or latching on to a religion that puts the adult first and not the participant. No faith in the short-term, little development in the long-term.
Mediocrity. Colouring inside the lines.
We can and must do better.
This post originally written and posted November 15, 2010.