I came across a great example demonstrated by one of the teacher/coach at the Fall Sports Awards Night at my son's school recently. What I am going to describe below was an example of an exemplary character, class and example demonstrated by a soccer coach.
As a little background, I was at the awards that night since my son is in the marching band, and I was there to support him, the marching band and the achievement of other student athletes. I was not expecting anything more than that. But I was wrong.
I believe the coach taught one of the most important real-life lessons to students that night that they will ever learn in a classroom: Do the right thing quickly when you screw up. You would think this is no big deal, but it is since we just don’t see it with our political leaders, business leaders, celebrities, sports figures and people in power. It makes you proud of the great job teachers do in teaching subjects, sports and, most important, leading through example.
When the coach had the soccer team on the stage, he gave a moving speech and recognized all the team members. The speech was not that different from those given by other coaches. But then he did something that for me was the highlight of the evening. He came back to say something more.
I, along with others in the audience, soon realized that the coach had forgotten to mention one student's name. For that student and his parents, this was a big deal. To his credit, the coach quickly realized his mistake and saw to it that he make it right quickly.
He did three key things on how to make things right in any situation. And he did in front of a large audience which made it impactful.
- He admitted he made a mistake.
- He apologized to the student, student's parents, and the audience.
- He made the student whole again by giving him a special recognition at the event when it mattered the most.
The coach made that one student feel very special after he inadvertently made him feel terrible. And the young man and the rest of the soccer team handled it real well. He taught both the students and the parents that night on how to quickly handle a mistake in a classy way.
We all learned a lot from the coach's example that night. We all make mistakes, but it is how you handle it that speaks a lot about you as a person. The coach did it the right way, and he taught me something important.
A teacher is always a teacher no matter where he is. Similarly, a student is always a student, always willing to learn from anyone, anytime, anywhere. And I certainly learned a valuable lesson from the soccer coach that night. It was inspirational.