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  • Matt Wheatley

The Fight Against Mediocrity

Some of you may think I’m a total a$$hole after reading this, but If you ask me, winning is more important than its ever been. That might seem like a strange thing to say I know. But WHY is it more important? The answer is simple to me, our society has shifted to an acceptance of comfortable mediocrity. If we are what we eat, Americans have undoubtedly become comfort food. And I for one, choose not to sit on the sidelines for this and let it affect me or my family.

I will be the dad who gives back the participation ribbons when that time comes for my son. And I will be an emotionless statue if he cries when we do it. You can put money on that. And when we get back to our car I’ll explain why we gave that ribbon back.

It’s not a “if you ain’t first you’re last” kind of mentality. No, rather I want my son to understand the VALUE in losing. If you never feel that full hurt of losing there is some severe consequences that come from that. You’ll never strive to be your absolute best because you know there’s still a pat on the back at the end of it. You’ll never understand the true heartbreak of a loss when you poured your soul into something and came up short. You’ll fall down and not want to get back up. And we ALL fall down. And those lessons are vitally important because it’s in those moments we become stronger. It’s in those losses we learn how to deal with our shortcomings and strive to better ourselves. It’s in those moments we learn the importance of grace, sportsmanship, and humility. Because we all know there are no participation trophies in life. You don’t get a parting gift when you don’t get hired, you get shown the door. Losing is a very valuable teaching tool, and choosing not to use it can be detrimental to our growth as humans.

By nature I am a parent that “parents from the gut.” And i say that because I’ve never been one until I had my son and I had no clue how to raise a kid. Hell maybe I still don’t. But ever since he was born I’ve decided what’s best for him simply by analyzing a situation and going with what my gut tells me. Now obviously there’s exceptions to that for say anything medical, but for the most part, I parent on gut instinct. And so far, it hasn’t failed me yet.

One thing I’ve implanted with my parenting is WIN EVERY TIME. My son is a toddler still. A very smart one might I say. So if he thinks he can “get one over on you” he will. That’s what toddlers do, push boundaries. And though he still does push me, it’s far less ever since I decided I will be winning every single “stand off” we have. In my mind, he needs to understand my wife and I are the judge, jury, and law makers for the foreseeable future. Once he accepts that, he follows rules much better and he is much more teachable. We’ve already seen dividends of this. I’m hopeful this pays off more and more as he grows.

Truth be told, it’s not easy. Always taking on the fight to win is a daily battle you just don’t always want to do. And it will be for a while. But it’s worth it to me to be able to truly teach my son right from wrong. How to be a gentleman, how to show respect to others, and how to follow the rules (and knowing when to break them). These are important things to me. And by winning these battles now I’m (hopefully) showing him how to be a good human. At the end of the day that’s all we’re trying to do is raise him into a good man. That is our responsibility as parents if you ask me. But I think I may be in the minority on that nowadays. Too many people think it’s someone else’s responsibility. And if I’m honest, I don’t trust anyone else enough to do it right.

The other side to this is when you actually win. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you EARNED that win rather than it was given to you. The hours of effort, practice, and sacrifice all equate to earning a win. And that’s how you win in life too, by working hard. As someone who truly believes in the value of putting your all into something, I have to teach my son the value in that as well. It’s just one more thing that drives me to success in LA. I want more than anything to SHOW my son you can win through pure, relentless, hard work. THAT is what winning teaches you, and that’s also what losing teaches you too. Having both is vital to understanding the value in each.

I feel like a bit of an outlier as a parent because I know it’s not the politically correct thing these days, but guess what, I’m raising a winner. Not a “participant”. I want him to win in life and know how to do it. We work hard because it feels good to work hard and reach goals. My son will know that one day. I will of course always applaud his efforts with love, but push him to be better.

It’s not always fun playing that role and he may not understand it always, but it will instill the drive and tools he’ll need to achieve anything he wants in this life. And for that I’m willing to make the effort to give that to him. My parents, teachers, and coaches gifted that to me.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado

We are leaders, and we are winners. Accepting anything short of that is accepting a less than great life. This is one man’s opinion I realize, but it’s what I live by. I hope you can find some value and inspiration in these words.

As always, thanks for reading.

Listening to: "We Will Rock You" by Queen

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