Friday, September 2, 2011

Blog Post 100!!!!

This is my centennial blog post.

It's crazy that I'm now 100 posts in as a "blogger".

For this "milestone post" I want to wrap up my short series on the role of parents in the college process with their kids.

I want to a tell story to do this.

When I a senior, I felt immense self-inflicted pressure to become a third generation military man.

My Granddad graduated from West Point.

He went on to fly P-32's in WW II in the South Pacific.

Later in Vietnam, my Granddad flew F-105's and served as the youngest base commander (and colonel at age 26) in the Army.

My father followed in my Granddad's footsteps and matriculated to the Air Force Academy.

It wasn't though until I visited the Academy on my recruiting trip for basketball that I realized just how difficult this decision would be.

As I perused glass cases, filled with trophies, plaques, and recognitions from years past, I would stumble upon pictures like the one below.

There he was. My dad at age 21. Receiving award after award. As the top student-athlete of his class. And as the top engineering student.

The clincher for me came when I walked the long corridor to the Commander and Chief's office, and stopping at a life size portrait of the top graduate of the Class of 1969, I stood there and stared back at a picture of my dad shaking President Richard Nixon's hand.

Later that week, I went to lunch with dad at our favorite Chinese restaurant across from the Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs.

It was there over our traditional cashew chicken dish that I told dad that I didn't want to go to the Academy. It was obviously a great college fit for him. It was not a great fit for me. I was a left handed and right brained kid who had a penchant for creativity and imagination. I was a metaphors and -isms kind of person. Not numbers and theories. I had struggled through calculus and physics, in particular, having to drop the latter after a semester because I was sinking so badly. I had had to take the ACT 5 times just to get the minimum score on the science and math sections to qualify for the academy. And the kicker was that the Academy could only offer me a spot at their prep school, which doesn't take someone who can cipher Morris Code to recognize I wasn't ready for the academic rigors of a cadet.

To put it another way: I was a "square-shaped" applicant trying desperately to squeeze into a "round-shaped" groove.

This was not a good fit for me.

Surprisingly, when I shared all this with my dad, he smiled warmly and responded in the most gracious and understanding way possible.

Dad said something like this.

"Josh, your Granddad was hard on me. You know this. But there were two things your Granddad never put pressure on me to do. One, he never pressured me to be rich. And two, he never pressured me to do what he did as a career. His only advice was this: Whatever you do, do it good."

Whatever you do, do it good.

A few months later I found myself at Trinity College outside of Chicago.

At Trinity I was able to study English, play basketball (in games not just practice), and eat the best deep-dish pizza in America!

It is some 20 years later now, and I am still eternally grateful for that moment with my dad.

It changed the course and trajectory of my life.

I tell parents that if it had not been for that conversation over Chinese food, I would not be teaching, coaching, and counseling your kids today.

Thanks, pop, for keeping first things first.