A ConversationEli 11.10 tried out for the high-level travel team last weekend. He played well both days of tryouts and made the team. Then, the other goalie that made the team submitted a petition to play up at the Bantam level, and it was approved, so instead of being a co-#1, Eli is in charge of the crease.
"Look, we need to talk about something," I said to Eli on the way home from the rink yesterday.
"What?" he asked. "Did I do something?"
"No," I said. "Nothing like that."
"Phew," he said, laughing.
"It's about success," I said.
"Okay," he said. "I'm listening."
"It's very, very hard to be great at anything," I said. "It's not a single moment--it's an adventure. It's a long, long road, and if you keep on this road, you will face terrible adversity. There will be moments where you question everything you believe about yourself. Plenty of people reach that point and quit.
The great, though, question themselves and keep going. The questioning makes them stronger. They never stop believing that they can work enough to overcome anything in their way. No matter how hard it gets, they believe in the process, and they believe in their ability to overcome.
In anything you want to do or be in life, you'll reach that point. And when you do, if you want to be great, you keep working.
"I got it," he said. "I know I'll keep going."
"Here's the other thing," I said. "It's almost impossible to help anyone if you can't succeed yourself. So being a success enables you to help lots of other people to succeed. Some people are selfish and don't do that, but you're not selfish, and whatever you finally decide to be, I know you'll be successful, and I know you'll help all kinds of people to succeed themselves.
That's what success means. It's not just about yourself. It's about climbing up, then helping other people climb up, too. I want you to know that now, because you're moving very fast, and you need to carry it with you."
"I will, Dad," he said. "You know I will."
He's eleven going on sixteen. He doesn't look like a little boy anymore. It was easy explaining things to him when he was little. Now it's more nuanced, more complex. I'm scrambling to keep up.