I have two 5th grade mentees that I meet with on a regular basis. Even though that may seem young to have a mentor, I believe that it is not too early to introduce the idea of possibilities for a future. Not too early to inspire and encourage them to look outside their circumstances and believe that they can rise above the seeming limitations of their environment. To talk about their dreams, their fears and their struggles.
When I was with Taila (name changed) earlier this week I asked her about how her cheering team did in a cheerleading competition the past weekend. She replied that they were awful. You see, her team placed second out of twelve teams. For her anything short of the top award was failure on her part. I told her about Michelle Kwan, retired American figure skater who is a two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion and a nine-time U.S. champion, who when asked how it felt to lose the gold medal to Tara Lipinski replied “I didn’t lose the gold. I won the silver.”
I applaud Taila’s desire to not settle for less than the highest award there was. I wanted her to see that what she and her team had accomplished was reason to celebrate. Second out of 12 is nothing to be ashamed of – it is a reason to keep working hard and keep setting her sight on that top prize. Everyone young and old should keep in mind that it is a journey that we are on and not a sprint. If we grow and learn with each set back, we cannot help but be better the next time. The opportunities for improvement are endless as are the opportunities for reward but only if we give ourselves a moment to recognize what we have accomplished. So, for Taila, we celebrated the next day with cupcakes for her entire class and smiles all around.