Greatness Without the “Dabs” or End Zone Dances

My two sons love Odell Beckham, Jr.’s flash.

When my 9 year-old scored a soccer goal yesterday, he gave the “eating them up” motion that the Dallas Cowboy’s Ezekiel Elliot has made famous.

I saw at least four “dabs” at my daughter’s monthly awards assembly last week that would have made Cam Newton proud.

It is easy to see that kids love flash.

But, I’ll tell my kids on Monday, that style will always give way to something that isn’t as shiny or pretty – heart, determination and a deep desire to be the best.

How do I know?

Because, Tom Brady has proven it again this year.

Brady’s rise isn’t exactly from nothing – although that is often the story line.

Let’s face it, he has a lot going for him – he’s famously good-looking and had enough natural athletic ability to earn a Big Ten scholarship after high school.  Brady was obviously a very gifted athlete and a charismatic personality.

Hell, Tom Brady seems like one of those guys that can do it all – like the classmate you’d scoffed at with every straight-A report card.

When I strip away the mild jealousy, though, there are five lessons Brady made clear to me as he brought his team back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit in the final moments of Super Bowl LI:

  • When passion and skill align, greatness can follow.
  • Leadership qualities can bridge any skill-gaps.
  • The definition of the best is always changing – so, too, should be its pursuit.
  • There is power in cultivating belief in people around you through substance and trust.
  • The “it” factor exists and remains undefined but admirable.

As amazing as Tom Brady was on Sunday, these five lessons are bigger than even him.

These are truths that I want to instill in my children.

But how?

First, I should look in the mirror and ask myself: Am I living in service to passion in a way that my kids can emulate?

If not, I need to figure out where my passions and skills can align – because my children need an example to drive their importance home.

Next, I should encourage any interest my children have – no matter my personal affinity for such an activity.

If my son wants to dance, I’ll let him tap like Billy Elliot.

If my daughter wants to play football – I’ll be in the front row cheering.

I’ll flip endless flashcards for my little mathematician if that’s what it takes.

Third, I should point out the “it” factor as much as I can – at the grocery store when a young man earns the smile of a limping Grandma; or taking notice of the way our pediatrician’s wink dries the tears of our 1 year-old after her immunization shots.

In doing so, I won’t discount the flash – the magnetism of swagger is not going away.

I won’t curse the obnoxious celebrations – there is nothing wrong with a little irreverence every now and again.

I will, though, hope for more examples of greatness without the glitter – of substance over style.

I’ll be in search of more Tom Brady’s for my kids.


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