Saturday, April 20, 2013

Three Things Everyday!

As a life-long basketball player and fan, I love the time of year just gone by.  I have been extremely busy coaching, watching and supporting the J.N. Burnett basketball teams, I eagerly anticipate the upcoming NBA playoffs, and just last week watched one of my favorite sporting events (NCAA March Madness) come to its conclusion.  During the tournament, ESPN's 30 for 30 series profiled the 1983 Championship team of North Carolina State and the incredible story of their coach, Jimmy Valvano.

I have never seen a 30 for 30 that I didn't enjoy, and this one, called Survive and Advance, is at the top of the list.  The episode juxtaposed the team's run through the season and tournament with the impact Valvano had on the lives of the athletes he coached and how he carried himself as cancer was trying to take over his body.  I still remember the underdog Wolfpack's spectacular upset of the University of Houston Cougars (led by Clyde Drexler and Hakeen Olajuwon) like it was yesterday (I was a young highschooler who was a basketball junkie).  I recall Derek Whittenberg shooting an air-ball, Lorenzo Charles catching the miss, dunking it as the buzzer sounded and of course, seeing Jimmy V run onto the court, searching for someone to hug.  That team and game are etched in the memory of millions who still recall it with fondness.  Valvano went on to become a world-famous coach, and when he later battled cancer, became an philanthropist and founder of the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research.  In 1993 at the ESPY awards, he delivered one of the most famous speeches ever given.

One of the most memorable lines of the speech is, "Do three things everyday: Laugh, Think, and have your emotions moved to the point of tears"

That statement resonates with me deeply, and when I consider the life I am fortunate enough to lead, I am truly appreciative that my family and the staff and students of Burnett Secondary provide me so many opportunities to laugh, think and cry everyday.  Some of the most recent examples include:

Laugh-When I walk in the door at the end of a long and sometimes difficult day at work, my children and dog always race to greet me with a hug and "Hello, Dad".  It is unquestionably the highlight of my day, and makes me laugh with anticipation and joy.  I am also extremely fortunate to get to interact daily with staff and students who have fantastic senses of humor, and seem to make it their mission to try and make me crack a wry smile (you all know who you are).  I can not recall a day in my career where I did not laugh out loud or at least smile at a comment or story relayed to me by someone in my life.

Think-How can I best support my children and the staff and students of Burnett?  How can I be a better father/leader?  What are the most important things for us to look at improving and how should we go about it?  These are all great questions that I think about daily.  They do not have easy answers, and consume great amounts of time and energy but the pursuit of these ideals is worthwhile and exciting and cause me to reflect and think deeply everyday.

Cry-Interestingly, as a former-athlete and want-to-be 'tough-guy', this is the thing I probably do most frequently.  While there are some days when the tears are related to sad news or sympathy for someone struggling with a difficult situation, much more often the emotional reaction comes from the intense pride I feel when I look at the great things my wife does to support our family and the people our children are becoming.  I also swell with pride when observing the remarkable events at our school like the dramatic performance of the Laramie project, the recent collaborative and completely student-run Dance showcase enabled by Ms. Fuller.  I am awed and humbled by fantastically engaging classroom lessons and the astounding efforts of student selflessness like when Mr. Anderson's History 12 class raised enough money to purchase several gravestones for deceased veterans as part of our school's Remembrance Day program.  I was also impressed by our student-run Reach Out club sponsored by Ms. Rodriguez, who this past Friday morning brought in Molly Burke from the Free the Children organization to speak to our students about making a positive difference in the world and get involved in our upcoming Day of Silence.  When sitting at home at the end of exhausting days or weeks, I often recall events like these, and am moved to the point of tears.

In the light of many things that have rocked our world recently (the Waco explosion, the Boston Marathon bombing and MIT shooting, as well as the inability for United States Senate to enact some meaningful change regarding gun laws), I encourage you to look for every opportunity to live a life like the one Jimmy V describes.  If you surround yourself with the right people and treat them well, you will have plenty of chances to laugh, think and cry everyday.  As Valvano says, "You do those three things, it will have been a pretty good day." Thank you for making my days so full of laughter, thought and tears!

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