Tag Archives: moral

The Mansion

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This will mark the 100th post on Atlanta Youth Lacrosse! Thanks to everyone who sent kind words and encouragement to me. I’m working to make this blog a destination for youth players, coaches, and parents. But none of it matters without dedicated readers – so thank you!

This post needs to have a special message. I decided to retell a story that I heard as a young boy. Be prepared, this story has a moral, and I think it is a very good one for young players to learn about. This lesson stuck with me for over a decade. I hope it will do the same to at least one player in our league.

*** The Mansion ***

For over twenty years Stan worked as a contractor for a fabulously wealthy real-estate developer named Jonathan. Stan’s job was overseeing the minute details of the mansions his boss built all over the west coast. He worked himself ragged, building nearly a hundred mansions over his twenty-year career, each one more opulent than the last. He was rarely offered vacation time, and he had not been given a raise since the nineties. While he chaffed under his boss, Stan had a passion for building the best homes, but then Stan’s life unraveled in an instant.

Jonathan called the contractor into his office and informed Stan that he was retiring from the real estate business. With the housing market taking a swan dive and home prices in the gutter, there was no good reason not to retire. Stan was stunned. All of a sudden he was out of a job, but there was a silver lining. Jonathan required Stan’s services for one final project.

The two men drove out to a magnificent bluff in California. Jonathan purchased nearly twenty acres of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He told Stan to forget about every mansion he had built and create one that would be more magnificent than any mansion in California. Stan accepted his last contract, but he had other plans in mind for his uncaring boss.

For two weeks Stan put the architectural and landscaping plans together. He told himself he would build this mansion to look incredible, but that would be a façade. To get back at his boss, Stan hired men he knew did poor jobs. He called the worst construction workers, the most abysmal electrician, and an awful plumber. Those men spent months completing substandard work that was just barely in the limits of California’s housing code.

Yet Stan knew the mansion had to pass Jonathan’s inspection, but his boss only gave the most cursory of glances to the finished product. So Stan hired the most skilled painting company on the West Coast, and the best landscaping crew that money could buy. One week later, the mansion looked phenomenal, but it shook more than a building made out of playing cards. Every day Stan smiled to himself, certain that this would be the ultimate payback for a boss that only cared about Stan’s work, and never his worth as a man.

The week before the mansion was to be put on the market, Jonathan announced he would be coming for an inspection. Stan was certain that Jonathan would fall in love with the mansion, never knowing how poorly constructed it was. He was right. Jonathan stepped out of his limo with his mouth agape. He stood for a full minute without saying a word, before exclaiming:

“You exceeded my wildest expectations Stan! This mansion stands far above every other one in California.”

Stan smiled, pleased that his deception was working.

Jonathan spoke again:

“I have not been the best boss in the world to you Stan. For over twenty years you faithfully worked for me, building homes that made me wealthier than I could ever imagine. I never gave you much of a raise and I rarely gave you time off, but you never complained and I respect that more than you know.”

Stan replaced his smile with a look of confusion. This was not what he expected. Jonathan reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a gold key ring with a silver key dangling off it.

“Stan, this final mansion is not going on the market. I am giving you the keys to your new home. I hope this makes up for treating you poorly in the past.”

Stan’s hands trembled as he grabbed the key from Jonathan’s outstretched hands. All he could say was

“Thanks.”

******

The lesson from this story is to always do your best. I do not believe that what we do defines us. Instead, how we do our work speaks volumes about our character. You may be the least appreciated player on a team one day, but that does not give you an excuse to give anything else than your best effort. I will praise a player who does their best and fails, but I can never respect an individual who chooses not to work hard because of their personal feelings against a coach, team, or teammates.

So remember this story the next time you are tempted to take shortcuts in practice. If you only use your left hand when the coach is watching you are only hurting yourself because, one day, the coach is going to send you on the field, and your skills will be as shaky as Stan’s mansion.

Cheers,
Gordon

My Tough Mudder

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Mud Covered Shoes

Mud Covered Shoes

I competed in the most physically challenging event of my life on Sunday – the Georgia Tough Mudder. This event lived up to it’s billing as Tough with a capital “T”. I got cold, wet, muddy, dirty, sprayed with a fire hose, rope burned from cargo nets, and electrocuted during the Tough Mudder.

I started off in the 10:00am group with about 300 other Mudders. After a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and reciting the Tough Mudder Pledge we were sent on our adventure to the sound of loud air horns. Two minutes later I plunged into freezing cold water in the Slippery Slope obstacle that was made extra cold with the addition of multiple pallets of ice cubes. When I got out I was numb from the waist down.

After the Slippery Slope I went through the Boa Constrictor. Crawling through two pitch black tubes in more chilled water numbed my entire upper body so at least I couldn’t feel all the pain I was in. After crawling, stomping, and wading through more mud I reached the Motocross Loop, which I would hit twice during the entire event. Todd, a fellow Mudder who ran the whole thing with me, and I chased the hills and burned through the early obstacles as quickly as we could to avoid bottlenecks at the obstacles.

We reached the first trail run and it beat me down big time. Hill after hill pummeled my legs into submission. These hills were so steep Todd and I were taking running starts just to get up the first quarter of the incline. I slipped on one steep decline, grabbed a slim tree branch and threw myself into a pile of leaves. Got up laughing and kept running forward. I stopped laughing went I saw the last hill of the trail section.

Oh, sorry. I said hill when I meant to say vertical face of dirt and roots. Imagine the front of Stone Mountain slightly tilted backwards and you have a good idea of what I crawled up. No one could run up this face. In fact, everyone, myself included, was on all fours grabbing rocks and trees to physically pull themselves up to the ridge line. Halfway up the face six deer crashed through the forest and the biggest one ran straight into a tree about thirty yards away before leading the rest of the family down to the bottom. All of us were holding on praying this giant buck wasn’t going to run us over.

Todd and I reached the top and ran fifty yards to the equally steep decline. I seriously wished I had mountain goat DNA in my system because that decline was treacherous and I nearly bit the ground hard on one misstep. Fortunately though, I made it through only to reach the swamp stomp! Two hundred yards of sloshing through chest high cold and muddy water and I was at the Mystery Obstacle.

The Mystery Obstacle, like many of the obstacles, requires teamwork. We had to scale a 12 foot wall using a rope and only our upper body, no legs at all, with zero running start since the ground was too muddy to get any traction. A former Army man on the top of the obstacle helped Todd and me up the wall – it helped that he had arms the size of watermelons. We thanked the man and stayed behind to help other Mudders up the wall.

After the wall it we ran into the Moonshine Hill Run. Halfway through even more brutal hills than the first series, I wondered why anyone would take such a slow route to traffic moonshine. But, by then I was slightly delirious and only focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. A the top of the Moonshine Run was the “Hold Your Wood” obstacle. Todd and I had to carry half a telephone pole about six hundred yards over more hilly terrain. Remarkably, that challenge was not as bad as it sounds. We finished quickly and made our way to the third water station at the bottom of the trail.

Barefoot at Mile 8

Barefoot at Mile 8

We were past the halfway point and making great time when we came to the Monkey Bars. I am very pleased to report that I crushed that obstacle. I think all of the tree climbing I did as a kid finally paid off, but after that obstacle was deep mud and my shoes were so caked in mud I was sliding all over the place. I stopped for a moment, kicked my shoes off and went forward barefoot.

A quarter mile after the Monkey Bars Todd and I ran through the Fire Walker. We ran blind through fifty yards of smoke filled air and fire. One volunteer stood on the far side and called out to us every few seconds so we knew where to run to.

After the Fire Walker we ran back through the Motocross Loop where started the race. Todd and I were exhausted and we were walking the last two miles over the hills and declines. Eventually, we reached the final aid station before the last two obstacles.

Three hundred yards later and I vaulted up a ramp to the top of a platform about twenty feet above an ice-cold lake. After twelve miles vertigo hit me like a hammer and I paused for a moment while I considered why I paid money to do this. I yelled to the crowd for a count-down – “3, 2 1, JUMP!” I plunged into water so cold I lost my breath and my muscles seized up. I reached the surface and immediately started side swimming to shore one painful yard at a time. Halfway there I honestly thought I would not make it, but I kept swimming and I finally reached the shore. Exhausted, beat up, cold, and sore I had one final obstacle left: Electroshock Therapy.

Electroshock Therapy on the Right

Electroshock Therapy on the Right

A short explanation is required for this obstacle. Ten yards before the finish line there is a thirty yard space about six yards wide where tiny wires hang in the breeze. Some of these wires contain 10,000 volts of live electricity. I took a deep breath and charged into the wires. I made it a quarter of the way through before I blacked out. I woke up a second later face down in the mud wondering where I was. That fog quickly lifted and I tried getting up to finish. I hit another wire and blacked out again. This time I learned from my mistake and crawled under the wires until out of the danger zone. I got up shakily and made my way the last ten yards and punched the sky with my hands in triumph.

Final finish time – 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Now, what is the moral of this story? Probably that I am a foolish individual who has a warped idea of what passes for a good time on a Sunday afternoon. But the second moral is never stop moving forward. Remember, I got electrocuted twice and kept going so I don’t want to hear any “I’m tired coach” at practice for the rest of the season.

Cheers,
Gordon