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By Darryl Stewart
image of two young girls, one holding a ball

How do we help our “daughters” to win?

My 12-year-old daughter is not very competitive when it comes to team sports.  She goes out for all the teams and clubs she can.  Soccer, dance, volleyball, choir, skating, ultimate and most recently water polo, are just some of the things she has done.  She seems to enjoy them all, but never takes things too seriously nor attains any real mastery in the sporty endeavors.  She does a little below average where the goal is for one team to beat another.

The real dilemma; Should we be taking a more active role in dealing with her lack of competitive spirit and her apparent lack of physical co-ordination when it comes to team sports?

The answer to this situation came to me as I wrote this blog.  As I was writing, I kept wanting to use the word aptitude, more specifically, lack of aptitude.  My daughter seems to have a lack of aptitude for fast moving competitive sports.  I think she sees sports as fun games with friends, missing much of the subtlety of what is going on.   The competitive, higher aptitude, people on her team purposely don’t pass much to her or half the team for that matter.  The competitive ones figure out who the other players who “get it” are and they try to make things happen together.

My daughter does have aptitude for listening to and understanding people of all types and ages, a strong desire to help others in need, a wonderful sense of fairness, fun and humor, language skills, a strong creative streak, musical capability, a flexible, adaptable approach to everything and the ability to get others interested in her ideas.    It occurs to me that my 12-year-old might be a future leader.  Some of these things I have noticed about my daughter read to me like the “Emotional Intelligence” that often needs to be developed in a highly competitive type later in life in order for them to succeed in leadership.

Our conclusions:

  • We encourage our daughter to continue to try out and pursue things she is interested in.
  • We try to help steer her more towards things we see her having aptitude for, like dance, art, drama, music and leadership.
  • We praise her work ethic and willingness to try things out when it comes to commenting on her sports endeavors and leave the rest to the coach.

She may get more competitive some day or she may not and we will be fine with it either way.

I find the similarities of parenting and leadership striking.  At home and at work, if you think aptitude is the issue, criticizing the results and/or trying to compel the person to try harder is a recipe for engagement disaster.  My wife and I have agreed not to fall into this trap with our wonderful daughter.  Maybe winning at life is not about winning at sports?

  1. Wise words and amazing insight to realize how unique and special daughters are. One little puppet can change their whole world.

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