Economic Multipliers (152)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

‘I wish I had known’ could be an economic multiplier for some young person if no one else is around to tell them.


I dabbled* in organized sports when I was in high school.

Quite overweight my freshman year, I managed to get down to a normal weight my sophomore year and went out for track. Anyone could join and the coach worked to fit kids into areas where they might excel.

I didn’t know when I joined the track team that it didn’t matter if I ever won a race, jumped the longest or highest or threw the shotput or discus the farthest.

NEWS FLASH: Very few people ‘win,’ a few more place and most just participate.

If you remember that, then whenever you do anything, every experience you’ll ever have will be a LOT more enjoyable.

‘Winning’ has a lot more to do with participating in positive ways than in ‘winning’ first place.

For some reason, I believe these instructions (hand written and signed preferably since I’m not sure I always paid attention when people were speaking to me at that age) would have helped:

  • On this (track) ‘team,’ the ‘team’ wins when everyone performs their best.

  • You are not in competition with anyone other than yourself. In practice, someone will certainly ‘win’ every event. At competitions (meets), we do hope it’s someone from ‘our team.’

  • It is your ‘job’ to learn and improve in every event you participate in. It is also your ‘job’ to help your ‘teammates’ do the same.

  • This (track) ‘team’ will allow you to get to know other kids better. One ‘job’ of the ‘coaches’ is to help ensure that any relationships you form will be long-lasting and positive for your physical, mental and emotional development.

  • You are responsible for making sure that the interactions you have with all of your ‘teammates’ help support their physical, mental and emotional health in positive ways. You can only participate on this ‘team’ if you accept that responsibility.

  • Every individual on the ‘team’ has different strengths. Acknowledge your ‘teammates’ in classes and in the community and help them find and develop their strengths on and off the field. Also help them overcome their weaknesses. Doing so will help you develop other ‘team relationships’ with people who are not on ‘this team.’

  • As you learn how to be a better ‘team member’ on ‘this team,’ look for others (kids and adults) who you can pull into your ‘broader team’ in life who will help support you in positive ways.

As I write these words, I know I had an excellent and very organized track coach (I participated in track for one year). I can’t recall a single negative experience with ‘teammates.’ I also can’t remember feeling like I ‘fit in.’ I remember many times when ‘teammates’ gave me tips on how to excel so I’m not sure I knew what ‘fitting in’ meant. Today I believe it means being surrounded by people who simply want you to do well … and help you be your best … whatever that ‘best’ is.

As a ‘mediocre’ athlete who lacked good social skills who came to athletics a bit late in life, if I had been more aware that ‘teams’ simply need lots of people performing at their best and when that happens, ‘winning’ in all sorts of ways occurs, I expect I would have gone out for track my junior year.

If I had understood that track (or any sport or activity) was a way to get to know other kids and adults in the community better, a chance to get some exercise and develop and improve upon skills and a chance to help others develop too, I may have developed into a rather good athlete by my senior year (and been a much better ‘teammate’ for my ‘teammates’).

For some reason, I understood how to help others excel in academics when I tutored students. In hindsight though, I had never thought much about what it is was like to be on the other end of the tutoring and never thought about the potential to use that time to also develop long-term friendships.

And, because I occasionally tutored guys who I believed would never have considered dating me (a young mind unfortunately can jump to ‘romance’ before it grasps hold of the extraordinary value of good friendships), I may have inadvertently overlooked potential friendships.

The thing that this older version of me realizes I missed is that when you participate in any activity which supports good attitudes, positive behaviors and solid long-term relationships, no matter how good you or anyone else is to start, there are all sorts of ways to ‘win.’

I consider myself ‘lucky’ in that the ‘LACK of social media’ made it easier for the ‘teammates’ of my generation to support good attitudes and behaviors. Less opportunities to express negative thoughts sometimes means that less negative thoughts get expressed.

I also consider myself ‘lucky’ that I recognized that I had a good coach.

And I consider myself ‘lucky’ that even after realizing I wasn’t going to be some sort of ‘track star,’ I have always pursued some form of exercise.

I wish I could say that joining any organized sport or ‘team’ is a guarantee of positive connections and a good ‘team experience.’

Coaches are people: Some are amazing. Some aren’t. Some even have the ability to ruin relationships that, in the absence of their coaching, would have developed in positive ways over time. Young people in particular need coaches who see and use sports as an avenue to help develop worthy and strong relationships, bodies and skill sets on and off the field. Sometimes they get coaches who only know the mechanics of a sport and/or who only see one way to win.

‘Teammates’ are usually as good as a community, their families, a school and the coaches expect them to be. And then it’s up to ‘teammates’ collectively to recognize that they ‘win’ long-term … not just at a game or a meet … if they rise to those expectations.

Know that being a good ‘teammate’ is not easy. Losing routinely can be a challenge. Supporting ‘teammates’ when you do not get the chance to participate can be even more challenging.

A final area that’s worthy to touch on regarding participating in teams in youth is the physical, mental and emotional rollercoaster young people can be on as their bodies and minds develop.

At a particularly vulnerable point in a young person’s life, it’s easy to be ‘attracted’ to adults who help you achieve and who you might spend a considerable amount of time with. Adults who have a good set of boundaries would never take advantage of this vulnerability. Not every adult young people come in contact with has a good set of boundaries.

As a guideline for young people who think they’ll never grow up (and then hit their 30th or later birthday and can’t figure out how that happened), remind yourself over and over that in your youth, no adult should be taking any interest in you other than to help you get your feet firmly planted on the ground in positive ways where you will look forward to your adult years and be excited about the future.

If any adults in your life seem to lack boundaries, work to find good boundaries for yourself. The body is pretty much fully developed by the age of 20 and the mind by the age of 25. It’s OK to give yourself time while working to cultivate a network of good relationships (‘teammates’ / friendships) if you can.

I realize that in this age of ‘enhanced’ social media, most young people probably already know these things.

Just in case anyone doesn’t, I hope that throughout your life, you find a way to find many, many worthy ‘teammates’ … on and off any fields.

Imagine the world we could live in if everyone aspired to be a good ‘teammate.’


* I ‘lettered’ in sports my freshman year as a manager for the girls gymnastics team and still remember the girl on the team that I had wished I was. Sadly (and I do consider this terribly sad), I would not be able to tell you today who all the other girls were. For some reason, I think that if I had simply been wishing that I was myself (the individual I ultimately aspired to grow into), I’d remember ALL of the girls who were originally on that team.

Likewise, I would not have had the opportunity to ‘letter’ in sports if the gymnastics coach hadn’t asked me to help: It would never have occurred to me to do that. Not only that, I made it all the way through high school without ever realizing that ‘lettering’ was supposed to be ‘cool.’ Today I sometimes wonder whether I was the only person who went through high school who missed a lot of seemingly basic things.