Do this one thing…a challenge for the New Year that you won’t regret
On New Year’s Eve, as I reflected on 2021 with Kerry, we shared highlights of the year. With so many memes about 2020 and 2021 — and the clear impact of the pandemic — it is so easy to get mired in the negative. But, in focusing on the good, we couldn’t believe how much our positive reflections had turned to tremendous optimism about what lies ahead for 2-4-1 (which I’ll share more about in an upcoming newsletter). But, I want to share a “highlight” of my highlights. In fact it was Kerry who said – you should really write a newsletter about that.
Fair warning – I’m turning my highlight into a request for you to do something similar this year. If you do one thing, do a version of the anecdote I’m about to share. It’s really simple and I promise you – it will have an incredible impact on at least two people – and you are one of them.
Reach out to a teacher, coach or former colleague who had a positive impact on you that you haven’t been in touch with in a long time and let them know – directly — about that impact. (And if that person has passed – reach out to a member of their family – and share it with them)*
I have often been on the receiving end of such a reach out and can’t begin to tell you just how meaningful they are. But, in all honesty, I have not reciprocated that gesture nearly enough. This year, I finally reached out to that one teacher from high school who had the greatest impact on me. Here I was, a career teacher/coach who worked primarily with high school students and I hadn’t let the man I emulated most know that his impact on me continued through my impact on my students and players.
So – on Feb. 27, 2021, I crafted the following email to Mr.(Coach) David Kissick, Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, lover of all things Philadelphia sports, amazing track and field coach, principal for 20 years and my HS theology and English teacher.
Given the impact you’ve had on my life, I’m embarrassed that this is my first reach out to you. And while I’ve crafted a missive for what feels like a thousand times in my head – I’m not sure I could do justice in any writing.
I will simply intro that one of the things I valued most when I was a young teacher in NYC was that my students weren’t sure if they were in third period Theology or fifth period English. I remember loving that about you. Heck, where does Leo Buscaglia fit anyway? :-).
There’s an event that happened early in my career that is pretty significant – and the most important telling of it always involves you – and a question you posed to us one day in class. Would be a gift for me to share that story with you, but probably best done the old Irish way. An oral telling!
About a week later (which ironically was 36 years later), we connected by Zoom and I can’t begin to tell you just how powerful it really was. I wept telling him that story of significance which I promise to share with you all in the future.. But what is especially cool about it is that we’ve now reconnected in person twice since then and he’s gotten to know Kerry and I’ve gotten to know the love of his life, Janice.
But what I want to share with you is just how simple it was.
Look, I don’t want to get morbid, but let’s be honest: How many times have you learned of someone’s passing or attended a funeral and your first response is regret?
“Why didn’t I spend more time with them?”
“Why did I let that small conflict impact our relationship so much?”
“Why didn’t I reach out to them?”
So please, please, please, if you do anything this year, make a short (or long) list of those folks from your past who you’ve been meaning to reconnect with and just send them a note of appreciation. If it leads to a face to face meeting — double bonus– but believe me, the reach out alone will have a significant impact. Don’t underestimate that!
*If it wasn’t for Christmas morning this year, I might not have thought of the suggestion to reach out to that person’s family if the person you think to contact has passed. But, this past year, Kerry received three copies of an illustrated book, Ivy Daze addressed to each of our girls. The book was authored by a former student and athlete of Kerry’s late father who went on to a career in education himself. The book is comic style and one main character is based on Kerry’s dad. On the inside of the front cover of each of their copies was a personalized inscription to the girls about the impact their grandfather had on his life. I got teary watching them read those notes, because that is how you keep legacy alive.
Happy New Year to you all! May 2022 be a play-filled year for you and your family and may you be inspired by positive teacher/coaches. And if you’re so inclined, be one yourself!
About Steve Boyle
Steve is the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports -- a signature program of 2-4-1 CARE-- whose flagship program is held at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. but now has locations throughout the United States and Canada. 2-4-1 was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports. This led Steve to form the National Association of Physical Literacy – of which he is now Advisory Board Chair. Steve is also a founding member of the Quality Coaching Collective – an international group of activators around sport, movement and mindfulness. Lastly, through his role at CCG, Steve was the two-year Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios (2018-20), which currently has campuses in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC.