Inspiration can come from lots and lots of different places. It can be large, like say something like the Ice Bucket Challenge and getting lots and lots of money raised for charity, or something extremely small, like observing someone holding a door for someone and reminding you the world is still an okay place. Maybe you see that and it inspires you to do something for someone else.
When we think of inspiring stories we think of someone overcoming something big, a cancer or an addiction or being able to do something no one thought you could. We see those stories all the time. Or maybe someone losing lots of weight and inspiring you to try a workout or a diet to improve yourself. Also, lots of inspiration comes from yourself. You try to run a mile and once you hit it you push yourself to run two.
For me, I get lots of inspiration from speeches or maybe a stand-up comedy routine. Being able to hold an audience’s attention, getting a reaction out of them still baffles my mind. I picture the beginning of that, the person sitting in front of a computer and pouring themselves into something. A speech for a funeral and a Dave Chappelle comedy special all start in the same place. Someone trying to put all these thoughts and memories into the world. A laugh or a tear from a crowd inspires the hell out of me. It shows me I still have lots of work to do in order to meet some goals I have set for myself.
I often wonder how people at the top of their game stay there for so long. I think about someone like Tom Brady and how he is constantly improving, never really stopping to think about how he is the best. When he is asked a question from the media about a game winning performance or a great game he answers with something like “I have a lot I can improve on along with all the guys on the team”. He never compares himself with other greats. He constantly, at least publicly, is critical of himself and strives to be the hardest worker in the room.
Well, I got to see that first hand this weekend from someone who shares her birthday with a Mr. Tom Brady. My oldest had a tryout to make a competitive dance team at her school. She is already on the team, but dance has a few different styles so you need to show you are one of the strongest ones in the style to compete. Similar to soccer or something, where you practice a ton but only the very good players, or the players that fit correctly on the team play. I know this from first hand experience as I practiced every day but hardly played on my high school soccer team. The team was awesome, wining 2 state championships in a row, but I rode the bench for almost all of it. I got discouraged and wanted to quit a few times, but I stuck it out made lots of life long friends and had some really great high school memories from it.
Anyway, back to little Miss Tom Brady. She had a morning practice on Saturday and Sunday was going to be the tryout. I know from experience this means that Saturday being a Dad will SUCK. I’m not allowed to joke and try to cut any tension at all. I get the warning from the wife that today, my confident, smart, beautiful teenager will be an absolute nightmare. There is no avoiding it, but I get so damn inspired when I see it. It follows the same pattern. I know exactly what is going to happen, but the inspiring part to me is that she had no clue. After her practice, my wife and I planned on doing a workout at the gym, but that is quickly erased by the tears of my teenager. She is an emotional wreck. Hours and hours of “I can’t do this” and “I’m not good enough” and “I can’t do a such and such turn (I pay attention, but I don’t know all the names of the moves) and everyone else can”. Just a mess, but that behavior is like all of us when it comes to a tryout or a deadline. Once we are in our own head there is no escape. But, this is what makes her different. She dusts herself off and goes to work. She gets in touch with a few of the girls and heads to her dance studio to put in the work.
My wife was the driver so all that was left in the house was myself and my youngest daughter. We were left with silence, which we both probably enjoyed very much. I asked my youngest about her sister and she says “Dad, doesn’t she know how great she is?”. I thought about that. I thought all the times we tell her how she lights up a stage, all the stories she reads about how proud her Dad is of her, all the little dancers who look up to her, but she doesn’t let any of that enter her head. She still pictures herself as the 199th draft pick for the New England Patriots instead of the best quarterback who ever lived. She doubts herself and gets to work.
When she got home from that practice she opened up her school work and wanted to get some of that work done so she wasn’t rushed on Sunday night. My daughter was doing homework on a Saturday night. She gets straight A’s in school, but it has nothing to do with her gifts. It has almost everything to do with her work ethic.
She can be an annoying teenager lots of times. She makes my blood boil. She reminds me all the time that being a Dad can be incredibly frustrating and difficult. We fight all the time, because I make the rules and she breaks them. She an everyday average teenager, but sometimes, well, lots of times, she inspires the hell out of me. Her work ethic when it comes to anything other than cleaning her room is special. She gets that directly from her Mom.
So, there you go, I finally did it. I finally compared my daughter to the greatest of all time. I know when I talk about dancing it is all subjective and I know I am watching her with very bias eyes. All parents do that, all of us think, or should think our kid is the best at something. We should brag about our kids to others, because we are proud of them. As parents, we teach our kids how to be with our words and actions, we hopefully inspire them to be something. They learn from us even when we have no idea we are teaching them. Whether that is how to be, or how not to be. But, hopefully as parents we get to learn from them too. I consider myself to be an okay Dad now. I sort of just stuck around until I figured it out. I watched them grow and they taught me how to raise them. They taught me a lot about myself. And this past weekend, while she was crying and working her tail off I got super inspired by her actions. I had been struggling to come up with something to write about for a couple weeks. Starting a story and never connecting it, but I finally got one thanks to that incredibly gifted little girl who lives in my house.