We Can All Learn From Children

When he finished speaking I stood there in front of the very group that I was facilitating – emotionless. I did not know what to say next. Matter of fact I felt if I were to speak next then I would not be able to hold back my tears. His comments were simple, but the fact that it came from an 11-year-old, gave the very words he spoke a sense of ageless maturity that I will never forget.

Sport, similar to life can teach us wonderful lessons. The Burlington Eagles hockey association has embarked on a mission to help develop the mental attributes of athletes and more importantly skills that young developing athletes can use for the rest of their lives.

The Burlington Eagles have implemented a program called PX 2 from the Pacific Institute. It is a program that teaches youth the fundamentals of how their brain works and the skills required to achieve excellence in their lives. I believe it is a first for organized youth sport. The program methodologically moves youth through twelve steps to teach them how and why their brain works the way it does, why they think and perform the way they do and most importantly what they can do to move beyond these perceived barriers, in order to achieve excellence in any aspect of their lives.

As a new facilitator to the program, there is not a moment that passes that I am amazed at the insight young kids display. I have always believed that if you want thinking athletes you have to let and teach them how too think. PX 2 provides a wonderful program in a setting that peers may share what and how they are thinking. It also gives kid’s an understand of why they act and perform the way they do.

In this one particular session, in one of our youngest group of players, an 11-year-old made a profound observation that everyone can learn from. During this module our exercise was to help kids understand that they are conditioned to perceive the world around them. How they were taught and conditioned throughout their lives mould their personal beliefs and the decisions they make. The exercise puts kids in groups of 2-3. The hypothetical exercise involves the difficult task of deciding who they must try to save from a variety of different people left in the water after a sinking ship at sea. There is only room for four more survivors, yet they must choose from over 16 different people, from all different backgrounds, that remain stranded in the water. After some minor squabbling, each group must validate and share their choice with the larger group. The discussion often gets energized and animated. The simple fact that groups realize that others have such radically different opinions of who they choose, is a learning moment for all. All of us formulate our perceptions upon past conditioning. Learning to be aware of or ‘auto programming’ helps us understand that our brain could be ‘hard wired’ to make us act in accordance to the truth of what was taught to us. This creates our belief systems and ultimately influences our decisions that shape our lives.

During the exercise a short scenario is read followed by the list of people, from which they will have to save. Each group begins to discuss their views and comes to a conclusion of whom to choose for survivals. Over many of the sessions there has been many interesting answers. Some of the more notable include; “it’s not for me to decide so the first 4 people I pass in the water will decide who I try to save”, ” we will try to save everyone by taking turns clinging to the boat”, “it’s not my place to play God” and ” if they couldn’t make it into a life raft maybe they are not worthy of saving.”

But, this morning the answer that continues to resonate with me belongs to an 11-year-old. Of all the people he chose to save he was the first to include the – drug dependent teenager and the prostitute. Well you can imagine the response he got from his peers. There was a rumbling and nervous banter filling the room. I asked him ” if he feels comfortable to share his choice with the group. He paused for a moment and said in the most innocent and truthfulness of a young boy;
“if those people have lived their life up to this point in the manner they have, then by me giving them a second chance they would do everything in their power to survive and make a better life for themselves.” I stood motionless, unable to speak. How could a kid have so much insight into human existence and not be that aware of it? Did he understand how his words echoed in the PX2 program itself? Did the other adults, kids and coaches hear the powerful words he just spoke? While I struggled with what to say next, there was a silence in the room. I think everyone took a moment to process what was just said. I looked toward the Pacific Institute representatives, they were there that day to evaluate me, and asked them ” in all the times you have run this program have you ever heard that answer before. Jay, the PX2 facilitator, asked the boy if he was ever given a second chance. the boy replied, “yes” when he was younger – that innocence of his joke went unnoticed – he had a teacher give him a second chance and now that he thinks of it “probably a third and fourth as well” – we all laughed at his candour. But, it was what he said next that has stayed with me from that day. ” Ever since I have been given a second chance I have become a great student and kid”.

We all need second chances, for coaches remember no one wants to make a mistake, correct the error save the integrity and self-esteem of your player, believe in them and give them a second chance. I am uncertain how you will be rewarded but I am certain how your player will evolve.

As for us, we all need second chances in life. Sometimes the hardest place to start is yourself.

Where Have I Been….

The day I received a ‘Package’ and never realized the ‘gift’ inside. That’s the answer I give to everyone who has been asking; Why haven’t you posted anything? Where have you been? You should post that on your blog, why did you stop writing? Well, the easy answer is this, I was ran over by a truck (not literally), got lost and made a choice not to get back in the game. I will never forget the day I got lost and forgot my purpose.

He showed up in my office wearing jeans, he looked to be a retired man, friendly wearing a ball cap he asked to speak to me, asked me my name and handed me a package. It was a kind of a friendly exchange, surreal to speak and looking back now one of the most memorable days of my life. I opened the package and was frozen. My emotions and senses were taken over as if from some external alien force. I sat motionless, paralyzed in what to do next. Little did I know it would be the source of almost mystical power over me. It would transform me personally over the following years. It provided sleepless nights and countless moments of anger and outbursts to the ones I love most. I shut down. I removed myself further away from the things that bring me life and energize my soul. I lost trust in myself and the people around me. I became synical and skeptical. I found little trust in anything. I questioned everything, and usually not from the place of wonderment. Waking up and struggling to put on a brave face for those around me was the ‘soup de jour’. I was slipping and felt I had no traction. It was as if the pull of the undercurrent was so strong my resistance seemed futile. I was falling, uncertain of how far and long the decent would be. Sure, I was able to forget. But, not for long. I use the term ‘forget’ lightly, because no one forgets a ‘package’ that changes their lives forever. I remember it as if it were yesterday. It is imprinted on the neurons of my brain in the same manner as the day I opened my most memorable Christmas gift. I may have been around 7 years old, when I noticed behind the curtains that glorious Christmas morning, one more gift that was strategically hidden from the rest of the gifts that day. The curtains were made out of green valour and were tied back exposing the white shears that covered the window. (Remember, this is not a story of the fine decorating qualities of home decor in Montreal, back in the early seventies). It’s a story of how a surprise package can change your life forever. As a young boy, I remember my parents suggesting I look behind the curtains, and I noticed a large box, I opened it to my amazement. A surreal and unexpected wonderment was with me the day I opened the mystery package in my office. I will remember the ‘gift’ I received when I was seven similar to the ‘package’ I received in my office that day.
The gift I received that year was a table hockey game, with metal players ( you could curve their sticks), an automatic puck dropper at centre ice and a puck ejector, that if pushed just right could fling the puck out of your own net, through the air and almost hit your opponent in the face, a great feature for highly competitive kids. The Canadians versus the Leafs, there was no better match up. I remember the sounds of the game, the colour and more importantly the wonderful feeling I had when my parents gave me the ‘gift’ of my life.
It’s amazing how a package can change your life. Similarly I remember the details of the day I received the package. I did not see the ‘gift’ that came with the ‘package’ that day. I was blinding to the ‘gift’ that would eventually expose itself over time. Sure, the package itself was the beginning of a journey that brought me and my emotions all over the place. One thing is for certain though, if you want to learn anything about yourself and your purpose and principles in life, you need others to ask questions of your personal integrity, intelligence and purpose.
It was in this package that I questioned my own purpose. Allowing my ego to interfere with the process I failed to see the gift and clarity the package was providing. Who I am, what I stand for and the intentions of my actions were all in question. My absence to demonstrate empathy and forgiveness for those around me was breached. We all understand the importance of seeing through the eyes of others and learning how to forgive unconditionally. But, it isn’t until we are required to carry out such an altruistic and nobel deed, at a time when we have sunken to our lowest point, do we find out who we really are and what we represent.
I made a choice to forgive. I see now what I couldn’t see then. I decided to renew and familiarize myself with my principles and purpose in life. I decided to see the ‘gift’ that I was given rather than what the ‘package’ represented. I hope you always see the gifts that come your way, no matter what the circumstances are.

Sleepless Night

The amazing thing about anxiousness is it can be in the presence of good or bad events. It will be the first time in approximately – forever that I have left my practice for three weeks. I am excited about my journey but remain apprehensive about the time I will be gone. it’s not that I don’t believe that all will be fine when I get back – it has more to do with let go. Learning to appreciate that when things feel awkward and sometimes uneasy it’s probably a time of personal growth and relection.

Victory and Defeat

Well just an update – the Burlington Thunder lost in a shootout in the finals to a team from Spain. We did score a goal that was disallowed – don’t want to be complaining, but if I am able to attach the link I will post it. The shootout was thrilling they scored two goals and we missed all of ours (Fraser hit the post -blog post to come). The boys and their parents were able to experience victory 48 hours later when we all spilled into the streets and into the town square to celebrate Spain’s world cup victory. None of us will ever forget the experience. Win or lose our lives have been changed forever.

She Is A Teenager

My daughter is growing up.  We celebrated a birthday recently – it wasn’t mine but somehow I felt older.  It didn’t seem long ago the birth of my first child arriving.  My wife and I thought we would have our first child before she turned thirty and our beautiful daughter arrived the day before my wife turned thirty.  Thirteen years later and …..where has the time gone?  My daughter is a remarkable human being.  Thoughtful, caring and empathetic to people and issues around her.  Her wonderful sense of humour lends to her personality.  She never allows my wife or I to leave the house without saying “I love you”.  There are times I am overwhelmed with emotion with just the thought of her.  You can imagine the feelings on ‘her’ birthday.  The frightening thing I started to speed ahead of time.  Next year high school, then maybe off to school somewhere.  I allowed my mind to keep going and she was out of the house living her life.  Successful, confident and creating a loving atmosphere for her own family one day.  She is a true reflection of her mothers brilliance.  It was another one of those moments that reminded me why we are taught to live in the moment. Even tough it wasn’t my birthday – I realize the gifts that I had that day.

Introduction To My Blog by: Dr. Rod Kirk

Well after many years of contemplation and a few months of production, I am pleased to announce the beginning of my personal blog site.  For most of you who already know me, I generally have something to say.  For those of you that don’t, it’s true, I do.            The one important thing about my blog is it will not be an electronic version of a complaint department.            It is with great energy that I will promote the site as a place for insight and perspective.  It may not always have answers, but I hope it generates questions.            To become a site that will ultimately promote change in everyone, it must first make us ask questions of ourselves.  To ask questions of ourselves and seek the truth from within, we enable ourselves to understand the world around us.  When we better ourselves we ultimately bring change to those around us.  The power to live a happy fulfilled loving purposeful driven life lies within each and every one of us.            I am continuing my journey by sharing and journalizing my life on my blog. With your support, insight and feedback I hope to help people evolve their lives forever.            It is my mission to make this site the largest resource in the world.  I want people to express themselves in a constructive forgiving environment that ultimately impacts others towards personal improvement.            I look forward to our journey.