I’ve been completing a project recently that has put many smiles on my face while also tugging on my heartstrings.
And no, most PowerPoint presentations do not have that effect on me.
We have been preparing for my older son’s Eagle Scout ceremony. I was asked to put together a slide show that will play while folks arrive before the ceremony.
In the process, I have been downloading scores of scout photos from the past few years as well as scanning photos from almost a decade ago…when we actually printed pictures!
On several occasions, the process has reminded me of my wife’s favorite TV commercial from a few years back. In it, a young family is playing around while the parents are getting dressed-up for an event.
The narrator then says, “Stop. Look around. This is the good stuff.”
In the process, I’ve come across things from my son’s Cub Scout days that reminded me of something I frequently joked about years ago.
During the time I served as a Cubmaster, I would tell banker groups that speaking in front of a large group of bankers was a piece of cake compared to keeping the attention of 50 elementary-aged scouts.
I was also fond of pointing out that the core message I attempted to deliver to a room full of Cub Scouts was usually not all that different from what I was preaching to bankers. In fact, the Cub Scout Motto is still my all-time favorite.
It is simply, “Do your best.”
I lost track of how many times I circled back to that message with kids, both in scouting and in the multiple youth sports teams I found myself coaching through the years.
One of the points I tried to make with our young people was that doing your best does not guarantee success.
Things will not always go your way.
Sometimes, your best is not enough to win.
However, it is all we have. Giving our best effort is the one sure way we have of getting better.
Sometimes better results happen quickly. Sometimes it takes much longer than we’d like.
In life, not everyone gets a trophy in every competition.
But when we take ownership of our results, when we are true to ourselves, when we give our very best effort, we accomplish important things…whether or not someone hands us a prize that day.
You may or may not have things work out just as you’d like today.
Regardless, do your best.
A recent dinner with my younger son reminded me of the power of simple praise and acknowledgment.
His basketball team’s year-end tournament was in a town 4 hours from our home.
Because of a late event the night before, we were not able to leave until 5:00 AM the morning of the games.
I drove. He slept. It’s good to be him.
Winning the early game, they had to play at 6:30 PM in a gym another 30 miles away. That makes for a long day.
I kidded that I was dreaming of a nice dinner and a pillow after his game.
The long day turned out to be worth it as he had the best game of his season and led his team to a win over a squad they had never beaten before.
On an adrenaline high after the game, he asked if we could stay and watch another game with his friends.
After that game, he found more friends to talk with. There was no dragging him from the gym as long as people kept talking about his game.
When we made it back to where we were staying, it was 11:20 PM. My “nice dinner” options were slim.
As it turned out, in that town, my non-vending machine options were running out as well. I was happy to see lights on at a Popeyes Chicken.
The young woman in the drive-up window told me they were minutes from closing but she could sell me whatever food they had left.
I chuckled as I learned we could get six assorted pieces of chicken, one order of fries… and…uh…one biscuit.
Back at our room, we discovered that we had no plates or napkins. So, my nice dinner that night was eating Popeyes chicken around midnight, off Kleenex tissues, on a coffee table.
I joked with my son that he was to blame for having the game of the year and then basking in the glory.
I kidded, “Well, enjoy your victory dinner. You can have our one biscuit for your MVP trophy.”
Upon our return the next day, my wife asked him about the tournament and about what was the most memorable part of his weekend.
He thought a second and said, “Eating a celebration dinner off of Kleenex in the hotel. And Dad gave me the biscuit as an MVP trophy.”
The funny (and cool) thing was that he meant it.
Never forget that the acknowledgment we give people tends to resonate far more than whatever the prize may be.
Whom are you acknowledging today (with or without a biscuit)?