The hot button political issue of the day is “parental choice.” In Florida and D.C., Chicago and California, parents of differential political persuasions are fighting with their school boards, their librarians, their universities over a host of culture war issues and their right to choose what their kids learn about (or don’t learn about). Some of the issues are serious. Some of them are made up.
Because there is a more important, more basic bit of parental choice that we all need to think about–one that ironically, many of these radicalized, angry parents totally neglect. They’re so busy fighting about what books are on what shelves that they’re not thinking about issues that are much more important, much more in their control, much closer to home (to say nothing of what kind of example it sets for their kids to behave this way in public).
The choice we’re talking about today is rooted in a famous press conference the legendary football coach Nick Saban gave. “We have 5 choices in our life,” he said. “We can be bad at what we do. We can be average at what we do. We can be good at what we do, which is probably God’s expectation for whatever ability he gave us. Or we can be excellent. Or we can be elite. And everybody has a choice as to what they want to do and how they want to do that. But if you’re going to be excellent or elite, you got to do special things. You have to have special intensity. You have to have special focus. You have to have a special commitment and drive and passion to do things at a high level. [You have to have] a high standard all the time. It doesn’t matter what God-given ability that you have—that probably can make you good—but without the rest of it, I’m not sure you ever get excellent or elite.”
We’ve talked before about the decision to be more than just a person that has kids, but to fully be a parent. To be more than just what your own parents were, to take those lessons from the past and add to them the insights of the present. You have to be present. You have to ignore the competition–something Saban has talked about in sports–ignore what’s happening around you, and focus on doing your job.
It’s essential that you avoid getting sucked into these crazy fights, avoid letting them make you crazy–whatever your beliefs. Focus on the real, most essential parent choice there is: The choice to be more than average, more than good. To be great at this thing. To accept what that challenge is going to mean for you emotionally, physically, spiritual. There’s more than enough to keep you busy there.