Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pep Talk: "Venture To Gain!"

I was emailing a childhood friend, who works in higher education on the West Coast, about the precious princess daughter.

The high-school junior is starting to visit prospective colleges. Checking out the campuses. Growing up very fast. Her old man does have one last East High Angel volleyball season to savor before the blue-eyed beauty heads for places unknown. The talented and versatile volleyball setter has eyes for a Pacific Northwest school in a big metropolitan area. Apparently, a lot of kids do. It’s tough to get into, considering the competition. High school grades and scores must be pretty darn good to even be considered.

The email conversation centered on this “checking out the colleges” moment of life. Trepidation time. Applying for college these days is stressful for most families. Just my opinion, but it seems the kids have no time to enjoy high school because they’re already, in their junior or even sophomore years, worrying about college. Is it just me, or is that a tad crazy?

Anyway, back to the story. Rachie’s starting to look around at schools, realizing that grades and scores are important when it comes to choices and seems to have a real sense of purpose to achieve her goal.

I hope she does. The football stadium on this campus is home to one of the most dramatic moments of my life. It’s something I share often in Pep Talk presentations when talking about unity of spirit. One day back in 1989 a young sportscasting dude got a big dose to the power of oneness from a moment inside that venue. It’s something I’ll never forget. I’ve got an emotional attachment to that school, too, or at least its football stadium.

If daughter’s dream becomes reality, who knows, someday I would love to go visit the campus and maybe watch the Colorado Buffaloes kick the home team’s butts. For all the CU fans out there, “Shoulder to shoulder, Buffs to the bone!”

Back to the story again. Daughter has a goal. It’s a good one.

This time of her life takes me back to this time in my life. I was clueless about the college application process. I was lucky that many schools were offering me athletic scholarships. Sure, grades and scores were important but athletic skill was the real door opener to the future at the time for this simple knucklehead from Missouri.

There was little stress at the McIntosh household about the college application process. In fact, it was kind of fun having college coaches stream into the house to sell their schools. My parents were divorcing at the time. Now, that was stressful. Just like life is today for families immersed in the race to find the right school. Hectic. Crazy. Sometimes disappointing and sometimes exhilarating.

When talking with high school kids these days, I like to ask, “How many of you know what you want to do in life?” Many will raise their hands. Then I ask, “How many don’t have a clue?” An equal amount answer with that honesty.

We then talk about the fact that either answer is just fine. If you know what you want to do, great. But understand that things may happen to sidetrack what you believe today is what you plan to do with life. I share about the injury, at around their age, that ended athletics for, as my buddy Billy Mac from Hackensack likes to say, “Wrong Arm.”

I had a plan, but was poked in the eye. Most of us have a similar story, right? Life rarely goes exactly the way we planned. Anybody that tells you differently is lying to you.

And for the “I don’t have a clue” respondents in the audience, they’re encouraged to be okay with that. They are also encouraged to realize, who knows? Something might happen the minute you walk out of the room that will somehow, someway, trigger an “aha” moment.

We just never know when life will chuckle and say, “Okay ladies and gents, it’s time for the roller coaster to get real twisty and jerky.” Good and bad. Hold on.

And that’s exactly what we try to do. Hold on. Also, perhaps, have a backup plan. When I was my daughter’s age I thought - naive me - athletics was my ticket. There was no Plan B.

Time has taught me the risks associated with that belief. We do get poked in the eye. Something physical, emotional or financial ruptures the pipeline that carries fuel for our vision of the present and future. Stuff happens.

But we have to keep dreaming. My daughter’s energized when speaking of this college dream. It’s wonderful to witness. She’s vibrant. I hope the dream comes true. Is there anything better in life than seeing your kids achieve dreams? Wow. Pretty cool, ain’t it?

What about you? Got a dream that has just energized your world? If so, I’d love to hear about it. I have one. That’s being part of the team that starts a fitness regimen for the program candidates at the Denver Rescue Mission. These guys are addicts, and exercise can help them prevail against what ails. I’m a big believer in “A sweat a day keeps the doctor away.” I look forward to building a team - maybe you’ll be on it - of folks who would like to volunteer in working out the knuckleheads’ bodies and minds. That’s my dream. To be the next Jack LaLanne for these guys. What’s yours?

Rachel. You. Me. Dream. Go for it. Take a leap of faith. It’s a well-worn comment but so true: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!” We can’t grow by standing still. We must venture to gain.

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