Sports, seasons, championships, success, and the game of life…

This past Thursday was the last of the three BTL Christmas dinners. I loved them all. Here’s why. This year instead of just letting the party go the way of a natural flow and the convo simply organically happening in little pods of proximity, I provided a catalyst for one conversation kinda Sunday Supper style. I started with a simple why question and gave everyone the chance to be heard by all. When necessary, I would inject another. What happened was freakin’ magic. We had one convo and everybody played, including spouses/guests who went from outsiders to insiders over the course of hours. Very cool. The coolest response to the curious convo starters was around our favorites sports related memories…

You see, in each dinner there was an abundance of world class athletes with lots of individual accomplishments as well as four athletic coaches with countless victories, championships, and even one who got to taste a first hand high school defeat against non other than Lebron. So, each dinner I tuned in like an animal being stalked to tale after tale.  However, here’s what I heard. I heard mostly about relationships, not championships. I heard, even the very accomplished mostly remember the people they were with more than the heights they reached, either individually or collectively.

When it was Grappy’s turn to share, he didn’t mention any of his sons, daughters, or his own moments in the limelight. He didn’t talk about Kyle’s gold in Brazil, when he watched OSU’s very own come home as the youngest gold medal grappler in USA history. He didn’t mention the NCAA championship the team won in St. Louis or even the shocking NCAA championship win by Myles Martin in Madison Square Garden last year. Nope, his favorite sports related memory was in the Garden, but it was back a dozen years ago. Grappy was living on Long Island back then and had trained in for a Knicks game with his son, Jake. Over the course of the game, Grappy had bought Jake one of the plastic, lighty thingys that you hold and twirl around as the lights blink away. Upon arriving home, young Teague sees the older brother with his stories and his light thingy and begs dad to take him. So, the next night, Grappy and Teague take off on the train for the bright lights of MSG. They no more than take their seats when the light thingy sales dude shows up and Teague’s eyes get big as saucers. The cheerleaders haven’t even come out yet as Grappy lays down a few bucks and Teague starts twirling away, happy as, well, happy as can be.

“Lets go, Dad.” What? “Lets go, Dad.” You see, Teague didn’t care about the Knicks (he was 4), he just wanted to be with dad and get one of those lighty thingys. And, that is Grappy’s favorite sports related memory. Funny, huh.

When I pressed him later for his second favorite, thinking it’s got to be something significant with his sport, he took about two seconds to tell me about this years OSU vs UM football game. It was a great game but, again, the memory had next to nothing to do with the outcome. His memory. “It was the most hugs I’ve had with Mackenzie (daughter) since I don’t know. We just kept hugging and jumping around. It was the best time.”

So, friend, as you set yourself up to slow down in this the season of gratitude. You are slowing down now, aren’t you? Take a few moments and remember the majority of your kairos moments aren’t about the mountain top, they’re about who you’re with during the climb. Be with your teams at work, home, and wherever you’re building community. Remember, the stuff you’re gonna remember when you’re 90 is the stuff you and I tend to undervalue when we’re younger. Most of our memories at 90 are gonna be about relationships, about the people we were with along the climb. Be with, remember. Be with. Be with all your teams in work/life. I mean, come on man, isn’t life one, big team sport?

Good stories families, friends, and clients. Good stories. It has been good to be with you this year,this season, in this greatest of games – the game of life. Slow down and reflect, friend. Slow down. Be with. Good…

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