Tim Tebow and the Difference Between Persistent and Naive

“He will never miss a chance to ‘Tebow’ toward the camera, will he?”

In 2011, I sarcastically scoffed at then-Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, kneeling with fist to forehead, after throwing a game-winning touchdown pass.

At that time, I dismissed Tebow as a glory-hound – a guy whose larger-than-life, holier-than-thou public persona dwarfed his athletic ability.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Fast forward and now Tebow has moved on to a new endeavor – baseball – and I am becoming a fan.

On Monday, as news of the former Heisman Trophy winner reporting to New York’s Mets Spring Training surfaced, I found myself rooting for him.

I’m a baseball nut, but truthfully, I could care less about Tebow’s ability on the ball diamond.

I’ve evolved into Tebow fan because I want my kids to see guys like him persist when others might call them naive.  And, I want my children to understand the difference between the two.

The distinction between being naive and being persistent, to me, lies in having self-awareness.

By most reports, Tebow will never swing a bat in a Major League game.  For that reason, some might say that his baseball experiment is naive – walking blindly toward a goal that is unreachable.

To me, though, Tebow is not naive, he’s persistent – distinguished by the fact that he is comfortable with the most likely, seemingly unsuccessful outcome.

During his opening press conference, Tebow displayed such self-awareness in saying, “People will say, ‘What if you fail?  What if you don’t make it?’ Guess what?  I don’t have to live with regret.  I did everything I could.  I pushed it.  And I would rather be someone who can live with peace and no regret than being so scared I didn’t make the effort.”

Tim Tebow shows a level of self-awareness that appropriately confines, without completely suppressing, his otherwise boundless ambitions.

I want my kids to do the same, but I am unsure how to do it.

How do I help my children develop into passion-filled, yet self-aware young people?

A piece by Erica Patino provides me with some tips – 5 Ways to Help Your Grade-Schooler Gain Self-Awareness.

Parents of young children should:

  1. Acknowledge the issues.
  2. Look at the big picture.
  3. Don’t let weaknesses be a taboo topic.
  4. Nurture your child’s passions.
  5. Let your child try new things.

Ah-oh.

I’ve got #1 and #4 covered – the others, not so much.

I’m great at getting things done but not so great at seeing the forest from the tree-house of parenting.

Our busy schedules – getting to soccer, making a solid dinner, getting the laundry done – drive a short-term, “get-through-today” mentality that I’m not entirely proud of.

For me, these tips are grounded in patience, honesty and independence – and I need to work on all three.

For tweens and teens, Amanda Morin suggests the following tips for instilling self-awareness:

  1. Encourage your child to speak openly about his issues.
  2. Point out the positives.
  3. Foster a balanced perspective.
  4. Discourage comparisons.
  5. Considering working with a professional.
  6. Encourage your child to be a member of a team.
  7. Provide opportunities for independence.

The biggest difference between the grade-school and tweens list is the acknowledged importance of non-parental influences on our kids’ self-awareness – whether those influencers be teammates, classmates or licensed professionals.

Two aspect of the list terrify me: (1) the power of influences other than mine, and (2) that I will have to step back for my kids to move forward.

Though scary, the tips are logical.  After all, a self-aware teen would seem to require some independence and private introspection.

But, as fearful as I am of the having teenagers, I’m committed to raising passion-following kids.  I’ll do what it takes to raise children with lofty dreams and their own, personal idea of what success looks like.  Their aspirations will be anchored by a tuned-in sense of self.

I plan to transform my current, blissful parenting naivety into persistence though a clear self-awareness that my top priority is raising passion-filled, contributing young people.

Just like Tim Tebow, my batting average thus far is not worthy of a roster spot with the big club.  I am, though, in the game with a clear picture of what success means to me.

That makes me a persistent parent.

My persistence will help my kids become unafraid but careful, inspired but grounded and focused but fun.

My kids will be persistent, not naive  – set to live with no regrets, just like Tim Tebow.

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