The NFL Draft Creates Millionaires, I’ll Attempt to Raise Great Kids

The NFL Draft will fulfill dreams and make millionaires tonight in Philadelphia.

Images of the Roger Goodell bro-hugs and #1 jersey-holding pictures with the selected player’s family will dominate Friday’s sports headlines.

The watching audience will listen as analysts pick apart the relative value of one draft pick over another – citing skills that they see as talent differentiators: speed, agility, toughness, football I.Q. and perceived strategic fit for the team choosing.

I’ll be watching the spectacle – mostly because my 11 and 9 year-old’s use these sporting events as “water cooler” chatter with their school buddies.  I’ll only be half-listening, I’m sure that my mind will be elsewhere.

I’ll be thinking about the parents or guardians of these gifted athletes and sudden millionaires – what a great moment that must be.

Most parents I know will never be on a stage meeting Goodell, but we will, without doubt, have moments where years of parenting feels absolutely worth it.

In those moments, I wonder what skills my kids will possess that paved the way for such success.

In that light, I’ve asked myself two questions:

  1. What are my “first round picks” – the top 5 attributes to teach my children?
  2. Once identified, how can I help hone those skills as my kids grow?

My friends at GetConnectDAD provided me a head-start, a list of “52 Traits We Want in Our Kids” – a framework for answering the question, “What do I want my kids to value?”

After studying their list, I’ve come up with my top 5.

Pick #1:   Be Passionate

Above all else, I want my children to find what they love to do and do as much of it as possible.

I often mention an anonymous quote that I love: “A master in the art of work and play draws no distinction between the two.”

Pick #2:   Be Generous

I want my kids to give – of themselves to friends, to strangers, to anyone they are around.  Each should be the “phone-a-friend” for anyone seeking advice, solace or, simply, a smile.

Pick #3:   Be Curious

My kids will be tinker-ers and perceptive – as quick to ask questions as they should be to take in the answer thoughtfully.

I want them to try new things without regard for the rewards for such efforts, or the likelihood of success.

Pick #4:   Be Resilient

Life is not all peaches-and-cream, and there are disappointments waiting for my kids as they grow up.  They’ll learn to dust themselves off, assess what they’ve learned from being knocked down and move forward with vigor on their next adventure.

Pick #5:    Be Hopeful

For me, the indelible quote from Shawshank Redemption has to do with hope – “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things…”

I believe it.

Hope keeps distant dreams closer.

Hope gives reassurance to faith when belief wanes.

On draft night, I’ll wonder if the NFL’s first-rounders would have employed my first-round attributes at points along the way.

I’ll watch to learn if there were other influencers that held these same virtues in high regard – coaches, mentors and extended family members.

I’ll think about whether my kids will capitalize on their opportunities like these first round picks who are now in the spotlight.

And, just as the analysts will criticize the 8th pick’s forty-yard dash time, I’ll be nagging at my kids along the way – pushing them to be better.

But, just like the families of the millionaires created this evening at the NFL Draft, I’ll flash the most glorious smile when I see the skills I’ve tried to instill help my kids reach the peak of whatever mountain they choose to climb.

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