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
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.