KIDS DO THE DUMBEST THINGS.
Let us consider for a moment, “the finger”.
Hands up from everyone in the audience who ever did something incredibly foolish when they were kids, let’s say from 10-15 years of age? I’m not talking about anything criminal here. I’m talking about something just plain stupid to the point of when you were older, you looked back and said out loud “WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING???”
Let’s set the bar here and note we’re not talking about criminal acts, as witnessed recently in the case of a Texas teenager who effectively destroyed her life and that of others with a phony rape claim.
OK. My hand is up. Here goes the second one. Been there. Done that. Owned up to it and learned from it.
Of course, in today’s society, chances are greater for kids doing dumb things and then the entire world knowing all about it. You read that correctly. THE ENTIRE WORLD. Thanks, of course, to social media.
Same reason why we can look back at this incident and not only say the kids did some stupid things, but so did someone else.
SO DO ADULTS.
When we get older, stupid things take on new meanings, different words. In this case, that word is “overreaction”.
As in when a girls softball team playing for a National Championship went way too overboard shoving their victory in social media faces of the defeated team.
The offending picture, of course, will forever make it’s global rounds in both the original and “edited for public consumption” version. We’ll go with the sanitized version.
As we used to call it millions of years ago, the infamous “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate”. Perhaps to you, the “One Gun Salute”. Of course, more economically known as “The Finger”.
POINTING THE FINGER TOO FAST AND TOO CASUALLY.
Yes, the girls did the wrong thing. Yes, they pulled a stupid stunt that in this day and age of social media is almost considered tame. And yes, they deserved to be punished.
But send the entire team home for the actions of a few? Strip all the hard work done by others who were not involved? A classic overreaction by the tournament officials.
I’m going to wager these girls are all fairly smart and thought what they were doing was cool or edgy. It’s what this current generation and plenty before them have always thought about first and foremost. Doing something that will get the noticed on the global stage.
Now, all that hard work is flushed and the team goes home shamed.
What about the coaches? What about the adults in the room? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones teaching their team about respect, integrity, responsibility and simple courtesy?
I’ve been around sports teams and athletes of every type sand age for decades, and I find when it comes to kids this young, those in high school and even into college, more often than not they do stupid things because the adults fail to carry their weight in being good role models. And yes, that’s another phrase I believe is overused. But in this case, it sticks. Coaches are far too often concerned about wining than they are about character. Sadly the same thing can be said about a lot of parents. This is just another example of that from not only the coaching perspective, but the parents as well. A lack of simple common sense like this usually starts at home.
THE PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LESSON FOR ADULTS.
If you’re a team leader, someone who has the responsibility to hold a group together, you lead by example. You uncover those on your team who are the leaders, and you trust them with that authority. It’s your task to create a new generation of leaders within your organization, your company, your group of your team, no matter the size and makeup. You show them time and time again what it’s like to be a leader, and who that includes a level of sportsmanship and integrity. Every time.
If you’re a member of the team, you understand what that means. What you do as a part of that group can and will reflect on those around you. Do something stupid, it won’t be just you that takes the heat. You’ll bring everyone else down with you. Thus, you understand and accept your role as a part of the group.
And if you’re a good manager, a good leader who understands his or her role when it comes to decision making in the case of something gone wrong, you don’t chuck everyone out the window for the actions of a few. Don’t be lazy. Find the offenders and make the punishment fit the action. Otherwise you send all the wrong messages to the individuals who broke the rules and those who happen to be collateral damage.
Be fair in your decisions. Don’t overreact. The message you send will reverberate down the line to the core of your team, and the damage could be severe and long lasting. Which doesn’t help anyone and can, in some cases, destroy everything you and the team have worked for.
We all have our stupid moments as kids and adults. It’s the smart manager, the true leader, who takes the time and effort necessary to sort through the mess and emerge with a fair and even-handed decision.
That’s the adult thing to do.