My Silent War Cry for Father’s Day

written by john c ashworth

"Be realistic?  Why on earth would you want to be realistic?"  Said Will Smith in an interview I watched recently.  His life mantras struck me deeply.  One of them in particular is in line with a danger I think about often.  Not just a danger, but a disease that we as fathers must think about and act against as a collective.  Remaining determined all the time to prevent the awful spread of this insidious disease.

When I was a senior in high school, I played three varsity sports - place kicker on the football team, center forward on the soccer team, and track team.  The pinnacle that year was the county track championship.  Five guys trying to leave their unlikely mark in this venue.  I ran the 4x100 meter relay and just barely qualified for the long jump with a sub par leap of only 21'8".  It was all I could do in that event to keep from fouling out.  Gut wrenching.  So, I was happy to be in the championship regardless of our slight chance of winning the whole thing.  You see, in the weeks leading up to the championship, five athletes including myself, and three coaches, huddled in sweaty classrooms drawing out potential scoring scenarios based on theoretical performances by each of us.

I was completely skeptical.  I figured at best I would jump better than I had in the qualifiers where my poor performance almost left me out of the competition altogether.  The strategy sessions the coaches were leading multiple times per week were the source of my skepticism, but they seemed to be satisfying some primal need for our coaches, who believed strongly in what they were saying.  So, we went along with them.

Suddenly, one afternoon, following a series of more mind-numbing calculations, something inside me changed.  First in my mind, and then just everywhere.  It was like it took me over, only silently and with permission from me.  To this day, I can still clearly see the chalkboard there in front of me.  I was granted a glimpse of the possibility for our potential underdog victory.  It was clear, of course, that each of us would have to perform at our peak in order for the final scoring to run up in our favor.  But it was certainly a possibility, and I could no longer deny that.  Suddenly in front of me a door cracked open and I entered.  Each of us had a unique way to contribute, but only if our performances reached the highest that each of us had achieved in our respective events to that point.

Something fundamental happened that day in my mind for sure.  Because though I was still mainly focused on my own personal potential contribution, some part of my mind went to work on the outcome, and it didn't need my input.  Also interesting to add, is that from this point forward, I was no longer focused at all on my poor past performance.  I was now channelling my energy in a new and completely positive direction.  Nervous?  Heck yes.  But focused.

As the judge turned the board around once, 360 degrees so that all in the stadium would have a chance to view it, the numbers there immediately became a silent war cry that all of us heard. Following another nervous warm-up where I had great difficulty finding my right measured spot on the runway again, I took off on my first attempt, my vision only on that beautiful white board, and in a moment of pure ecstasy hit it squarely, launching my body into the air. I felt then, as if the board had been elevated two or three feet above the ground, as I flew toward victory.

When the judges turned the board around and it read, 23'4", I was astounded.  Victory was ours.  Though it would take some time to materialize, and following an anxious 15 minutes as score keepers tallied the performances, we were confirmed as champions and for the first and only time in my life, I wore a shirt and hat, produced in advance of the event that labeled us as champions.

I have not thought about that time for a long while, but when I began my thinking this morning about how I wanted to inspire you for father's day, there it was...beautiful in its innocence.  It got me thinking about what I believe is our duty for those we nurture.   Set unrealistic expectations and work like mad to achieve them. Not to the point of obsessive pursuit of meaningless benchmarks, and the unproductive perils hidden inside elitism, but instead we must inspire visions that often only we can see and believe in at this moment. Just as my track coaches planted seeds and nurtured them in us, we as fathers must do the same.  Our silent war cry against mediocrity...

With great respect for all of you...


Happy Fathers Day!

About the Author
John Ashworth is an empathetic sales leader with an incredibly diverse background as a salesman, business consultant, marketing maniac, writer, Dad and full time Bohemian Athlete. aka Johnny Renaissance.

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