Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This week was state cross country, so it hardly seems fair to say that slow and steady wins the race.  But more times than not, when looking at a situation over time, slow and steady wins the race.

Cross country student athletes have been running for months to prepare for that race.

Marching bands have been waking up at the crack of dawn to practice since summer.

Our students have been putting in the time to prepare and our coaches and directors have been putting in the work to help them grow. So many fall activities are reaching their peak right now.  As we watch the final moments, it’s easy to forget the work that went into the moment.

That’s what I took from the Husker win this week.  After the first game, we’ll technically after the second game, I blogged about hoping the coach and the student athletes would stay Calm in a Crisis.

We live in a state that takes its college football seriously.  I can only imagine the pressure the team feels every year. But the only way to win is to take it slow and steady.  One practice at a time.  One lesson at a time. One moment at a time.  That’s how you change a culture.

Any culture.

There is a powerful lesson in that for us as leaders.  Vision becomes reality slowly.  It takes calm, consistent focus.

Pause long enough to recognize where you are on your own journey.  It’s true that a journey of a thousand miles behind with a single step.  Each one of those steps matters.

Community

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It was a heartbreaking loss after a great game!  The Patriots shot three pointers like they’ve done all season.  The Hawks hit free throw after free throw. It was a sight to see.  Overtime.  How state titles should be earned!  …if only it had ended in our favor.

But today is a new day.  Today Millard South and Lincoln Southwest are once again a part of the same community, a community of athletes, of high school students, of Nebraskans. What unites them is once again stronger than what divides them.  That is always the case!

Community was proudly on display last night.

Brothers and sisters and parents and grandparents holding signs and waving pictures of their players. Family.

Cheerleaders and band members and dance teams and amazing student sections cheering on their players. School.

Guards, forwards, coaches, trainers. Team.

On both sides!

There is power in community.  There is energy and enthusiasm in community.  You could feel it in the arena.  Many voices became one. What no single person could accomplish can often be done with ease when people come together.  “Many hands make light work.”

Communities working together can do amazing things!  Imagine if those families, those teams, those schools worked together.  Imagine what they could do.  Last week I saw communities working together to clean up after tornadoes in Illinois and Missouri.  This year we have already seen communities rally together after fires and floods and blizzards.

Imagine what we could do if our communities came together for a common purpose.  Could we ensure all students have access to a quality education?  Could we guarantee care for the elderly?  End hunger?  End homelessness?  Could we see to it that every single person feels a sense of belonging, of love?

Families, teams, schools know that there is power in community.  If only we could extend that to the community of humankind.

img_4128One community walked away last night happy with the result, the other wishing the outcome had been different. But both walked away with a sense a pride, proud of what they had accomplished together through the season, proud of what can be done when we unite.

Friday Night Lights

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I love football, especially high school football.  There is something so fun about standing on the sidelines on a 73 degree night watching our kids play their hearts out.  There are rivalries and comebacks.  There are trick plays and Hail Mary’s.  There is always excitement in the air.

But when I got home Friday and checked Facebook and Twitter, I was truly overwhelmed by post after post of pictures from the game (or one of the many games played across the city, state, and country on Friday night).  And while there were some fantastic pictures of football, most of the pictures had almost nothing to do the game.

There were little kids sitting in the grass playing with each other while the game was happening in the background.  There were cheerleaders and dance teams and band members.  There were middle schoolers and high schoolers.  There were veterans and a JROTC.  There were moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas wearing school colors and cheering.

Post after post talked about how much fun people had.  Post after post demonstrated what our superintendent and our district athletic director have both shared recently in interviews, that high school football games are about so much more than football.

In those hours, under the lights, we become a community.

Friendships are formed.  Talents are unveiled.  Students and parents and community members spend time together talking and building relationships.

“There is so much more than football going on here.”  (Jim Sutfin)

People get the opportunity to see our students shine.  We showcase the hard work of so many groups who perform on those nights.  And it goes well beyond those on the field.  Our students sell concessions to raise money for their activities.  They support their fellow classmates with cheers and applause and respect when they perform.  And they represent their schools and districts with pride.

imageTeachers and administrators who have retired come to the games.  Elementary and middle school students come with their families and imagine what it will be like when they are in high school.  Current families and staff members spend time together outside the school day.

We build a community on those nights and on countless other nights at orchestra concerts and cross-country meets, at volleyball games and plays and musicals.

There is magic in these football stadiums.  There is a small town feeling in even the largest of cities.  There is opportunity there to connect and to become stronger together than we will ever be alone.

imageOn a side note, in Nebraska (and probably in other places too I’d imagine), we do something similar on Saturday nights. I went to my first Husker football game Saturday.  I have no idea how someone who loves the Huskers as much as I do has gone 46 years without going to a game in person, but wow!  For a few hours we became a community there too.

I hope you will continue to post your pictures.  I am moved by all of them, and I am reminded in them that I am #Proud2bMPS.