End of seasons are inevitable. In life and leadership, all seasons come to an end. Someday, somehow, all seasons are certain to end.
End of Seasons
My son, Grant, wrapped up his freshman high school wrestling season this weekend. He and seven of his Allatoona High School teammates placed at their regional championships which earned them an opportunity to compete at the Georgia High School Association’s sectional tournament this past weekend.
To advance to the state tournament, they would have to place in the top six at sectionals. Those that didn’t, would experience their end of season. For four of them, more was on the line. They were seniors.
I have coached and worked for my entire adult life. Prior to that I was an athlete. At all points of those journeys, I have experienced end of seasons.
This weekend made me wonder. What are the three best questions you can ask yourself in life and leadership when those seasons come to an end? Here are some thoughts:
Grant fell two rounds short of extending his season. While he was disappointed, as a father, I certainly wasn’t. He was a freshman, wrestling varsity, and made it deep into the season. Grant exceeded my expectations.
Now, the coach and leader in me would expect him to ask, “What happened?” The rear-view mirror is intended to be peaked in, not stared in. It impedes your vision forward. For a short period of time, at the end of any season, we should peak into what happened.
Asking that simple question can tell the story of what we learned from that season, what we did well in that season, and what didn’t go so well. The question builds the base of what is needed to start moving forward.
So what now? I have always tried to participate in a celebratory break. Whether it is a nice dinner, getting away for a weekend, or doing something unscripted after being structured for so long.
“What now” is that moment that stares us in the face at the end of a long season.
The sectional tournament was in Brunswick, Georgia, a coastal community located in the Southeast part of Georgia, a good five-hour drive from Acworth. Brunswick is also about an hour south of one of my favorite places, Savannah.
We hung around to watch the rest of his team finish out the tournament. Then we decided in the “now,” to make it a road trip that night. We found the best seafood place in Savannah and headed there. After a season of making weight, it was time to indulge for Grant. Root beer, crab legs, and French fries were on the menu.
Afterwards, I got to share with him what I like to do in Savannah. We walked River Street, listened to street musicians, checked out the historic architecture, the nightlife, and went to every candy store they had.
It was a nice break in the transition of seasons. We had no schedule, no plan. In fact, we left at 11:00 p.m. and drove through the night home. He took advantage of his “now” and slept the whole way! I popped in some earbuds and listened to some good music. It was a good “now” for both of us.
As we transition seasons in life and leadership, enjoy the “now.” Regroup, refresh, and relax. The next season is coming.
We got in around 3:30 a.m. today (Sunday). We both slept in late. Then, it was time to get ready for the next season.
For Grant, baseball is next. He tries out for his high school team tomorrow (Monday). We went up to our local batting cage and worked on preparing him for what is to come. We hit, we threw, and we prepared. The next season is here.
As leaders, “What’s next” can be framed in many ways. It can be anticipatory, it can be aspirational, and it can be reality. Time waits on no one. Upon one season’s end, there is always a next.
Four of the wrestlers on the trip were seniors. For three of them, their high school wrestling careers ended on those mats at Brunswick High School. Grant has three more years to apply “What happened,” for those seniors, “What is next” is at the forefront. Life, college, and career decisions await them.
The night before the tournament, we drove out to St. Simons Island and the boys did a workout on the beach. The sun had just set. For a few moments, those 14 to 18 year olds were all kids. Wrestling on the beach, playing in the cold water, and laughing together. Perspective was setting in. In three short years, he will be that kid. He will be the senior. His season will end. In the moment of this season, I was grateful for him to be a part of that group of special kids.
What happened? What now? What’s next? These three questions are reflective in nature and help guide us on the path forward. We never want to get stuck in a season. Seasons require learning from them, presence in them, and moving on after them.