The Old Man Story and the Choices we make
This is the Old Man Story. In writing a good deal to reach out to Junior A Hockey this year. I’ve noticed a number of negative articles related to poor choices players have made news with as of late. This is of course nothing new and since I’ve been helping athletes for three decades you might say I’ve seen quite a bit of it. I thought I would post a story I’ve been telling for perhaps 25+ years. Most every athlete I’ve either worked with on their mental game or coached on the soccer field has heard this. It’s in my book The Athlete within You, but I think it bares repeating here. So if you will indulge me, this is the story I’ve just called THE OLD MAN.
I want to tell you a story. It took place long time ago in a very small village. There was a young man who was a punk (not in the music way or I’ll get in trouble with my sons), if we can call him that; I suppose smart ass is how he would be referred to today. And he had a young friend and he started to talk. “There is an old man in the village who is never ever wrong. He’s a wise old guy and he’s never been wrong in his entire life and we are going to get one over on him.” And then the young man reached into a bush and pulled out a little bird. “I’m going to ask the old man if the bird in my hand is alive or dead. If the old man says the bird is dead, I will open my hand and the bird will fly away. I will be able to say that the old man was wrong. If on the other hand, the old man says that the bird is alive, I will crush the bird in my hand. I’ll open my hand and prove to him that he was wrong for the first time in his life. In this way I will show him he can be wrong and he’s not perfect.” So along comes the old man, and the young brash kids approach him. The boy says, “Hey old man, I have a question for you.” The old man looks at him with a sad smile on his face and he says, “Yes my son, what can I do for you.” The brash young man says “I have here in my hand a bird; you must tell me if it is alive or dead.” The brash young man has a big smile on his face because in his heart of hearts he knows he’s gotten one over on the old man. The old man looks again at him with sad smile on his face. “My son,” the old man says, “the answer lies in your hands.” It’s not just that the wise old man knows that choice is in this young man’s hands. The choice of course is in all of our hands. When we make a decision, when we take an action, in anything we do, we are at choice.
Young men that have the privilege to play sports at any level, though sheer talent or good fortune need understand that everyday choices they make will impact their future. All of us make mistakes in life. Understanding that we are the one’s responsible is an important step in the maturation process. Decide to drink, do drugs, party hard, be promiscuous what ever, the bottom line is it is your choice. I’m not going to stand up and lecture anyone on morality. I’ll leave that to your parents as we all see things differently, but I will be emphatic that every choice has a consequence. Sometimes the result is no result at all, but it is a result. Later this week I’ll dazzle you with Chaos Theory (think Jurassic Park), but for now understand what The Old Man has said. It’s in your hands!
Offer outdated, but you can still buy book here
Since you’ve gotten this far I’d like you to note that for today August 30, 2012 I have a promotion on Amazon where I am giving away free copies of The Athlete within You Kindle Addition. All you need to do is click on the following link and follow the instructions.
Credit on the picture is Max Margolies, my father. He would have been 95 this Dec 25th. Picture was just before his passing prior to his 90th birthday. I won’t say he was the model for the story, nor will I admit to being the smart ass kid. But there are some similarities.
Post, Post Script
Almost a year after this post I wrote an addendum to this story. Please check it out as it demonstrates if nothing else the power of stories. The Story Continues