Wednesday, June 28, 2017

On the Bench is Where Character is Built

About 25 years ago, I was at my first assignment in Japan. The only other lieutenant in the squadron was the intel flight commander. We had the two busiest flights, but as the only lieutenants, we got ALL of the additional duties. He and his lovely wife Nancy were battle buddies for sure, as many great memories were made at that assignment both on duty and off :-) Spring ahead to today and that lieutenant is the commissioner of my daughter's rugby club, here in Northern Virginia. Amazing, huh? Nancy is an incredible interior designer (who's stunning work has appeared in the Washington Post), and they have four handsome sons. It's been so great reconnecting with them.

Their youngest son just participated in a national rugby tournament, representing Virginia.  It was a 0-0 tie until the last minute, and they won! So amazing. Nancy had a wonderful take on the excitement of the final game, Her words were so wonderful, I asked if I could share them:

Thinking about my son and his exhilarating finish yesterday and it's making me think. Most people go their whole entire lives without even having an opportunity like that - whether it's the game-saving home run, the last second shot at the buzzer, or being the star of the musical, hearing thunderous applause and knowing you, even for a few seconds, have the limelight. There's a lot riding on it, I mean, you could fail; and then you feel disproportionately responsible. But when you don't, and it all works out, the reward is so incredibly sweet. But most of us never even have that moment that could go either way. Most of us are supporting cast. Most of us ride the bench more than we want to. And I was never really in sports or performing, but watching my kids and their friends, I have learned one huge thing. On the bench is where character is built. It takes so much strength to be part of a team or cast when you are not the star, and especially when you know you never will be. You can't always control the luck of opportunity, but you can control your own character. So here's to the kids that show up week after week saying put me in, Coach. Here's to the dancers in the back row. Here's to the chorus member who will never be the soloist, the violinist who will never be first chair. You've got serious mojo and I think you are the bomb!

I've seen a lot of posts lately in the women officer forum I'm part of about concerns when being moved into a job that seems like a side step, and not a step up. The wonderful thoughts of my friend go for these situations too. Sometimes in life, your job is to take on the unglamorous task so that others can shine and succeed. You will learn so much in this role, trust me. Your teammates (family members, co-workers, fellow volunteers...) notice more than you realize. And you are the bomb :-)

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