In 1985, I missed the magical baseball season of the Kansas City Royals. I entered the US Navy in June of that year, graduating recruit training in September. There was no television watching in boot camp, even if your baseball team was heading for the World Series. By the time October rolled around, I was still getting my bearings as a new USN sailor in training. I didn’t watch a game that year.
It’s not like we watched a lot of baseball on television growing up anyway. I mostly enjoyed listening secretly to Royals games on my transistor radio after bedtime. I remember having a Royals poster on my wall, way back in the earlier days of the franchise. It had players like Cookie Rojas, Darrell Porter and of course George Brett.
For much of my life, I haven’t really followed Major League Baseball. But several years ago, probably because of a lack of anything good on TV to watch, my wife Wendy got us started watching the Royals games. Not too long after we began following the team, they acquired a pair of rookies called Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. You could tell by watching those two that this team was going to be something special.
Every year they played, they got better and the team got better. Last year they came close, oh so close, losing in the final game of the World Series to the San Francisco Giants. After an incredible season, the Royals will get another chance in the World Series this year. The thing that is most admirable about this team is that they never give up.
I think persistence is a character trait that is becoming less common. We live in a world of instant, easy access. At the click of a button, we can download digital items instantly. Even physical things can be delivered to our door overnight. Sometimes it seems as though we have lost our willingness to delay gratification and to stick to our goals for the long haul.
I know many times my students are inclined to give up when things get too tough. While it is always a temptation, it giving up isn’t how you accomplish great things. Most of the time, anything worth doing is going to take some time and some persistence. That’s why seeing the KC Royals returning to the World Series for the second year running is such a cool thing. It is like they have unfinished business to attend to from coming up short last year. Time will tell if they will be successful, or if they will have to keep on working.
Seeing those young men celebrate their victory last night after working so hard for so long reminded me of my own recent personal victory that I will share with you in another post. But I do wonder how often do we, as parents or teachers of young people, intentionally create achievable situations that can’t be finished without great effort and persistence for our kids?
I have a number of assignments that I give in classes that I teach that can’t be successfully completed in one sitting, such as a video term paper research project or even the pumpkin carving project we will be finishing up next week. These assignments have mile-marker achievements built in, so the students can know they are on track towards finishing a big project that they can look back on with satisfaction knowing they worked hard on something worthwhile.
Persistence is a good thing. It is a required ingredient of being successful. So what are we doing to encourage persistence for our youth in a world that tells us we shouldn’t ever have to wait or endure any obstacles to achieve our dreams?