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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Prize not Mentioned

Yesterday, I spoke about our Food Extravaganza.  Today, I realized what a toll it had on Sean.  Being the oldest it can be tough not doing as well as he had hoped.  In spite of his easygoing attitude yesterday, I realized he was in need of a little help today.  I first told him how proud I was of his hard work.  Then I gave him a little analogy that I thought I would share with all of you.

Going to a 4-H competition is kind of like going fishing.  You begin by gathering your equipment (in this case gathering information and experience).  Then you check to make sure everything is in working condition (practice and assess what needs improvement).  Then you go out and find that perfect spot to catch a fish (competition).

Sometimes when you go, you have many options and the fish are biting well.  On those days, you cast your line anywhere and get a catch (easy win without any effort).  Other days the chances are slim and you wonder if you will catch anything at all (days when you struggle).  On those days, you might even wonder why you tried at all.  So, you have to make a choice…are you going to give up and go home…or cast that line anyway.

Yesterday Sean chose to cast his line and try for the catch.  This was his first success.  He did not give up.  So now, he had another choice to make.  Was he going to bait his hook and cast deep or send out his line just to say he had gone fishing?  Sean chose to send out a line deep with his best bait.  He did his best and did not hold back in spite of his competition.  This was his next success.

Sometimes when we go fishing, we do not catch a single fish.  One might wonder why anyone would want to ‘waste’ the time.  Nevertheless, I have not met too many fishermen who would miss the chance to go out and enjoy the experience.  Sean took the chance, went out, and enjoyed the experience.  He learned from the experience, and he is a better person because of it.  This was his third success of the day!

If my children learn nothing else from 4-H, then they have gained the prize.  I have learned that as nice as it is to walk away with the ribbon or medal, the experience gained is just as important.  We can pray that our children always do well, but what I truly hope they will learn is that even in our failures there can be something gained.  It reminds me of Thomas Edison…he was asked why he continued to work when he failed so many times to produce the light bulb.  His answer was simple…I haven’t failed, I have learned 10,000 ways that do not work! 

So, to Sean and others who might not have done as well as they expected yesterday…I say cast out your lines again.  Never give up the joy of fishing!  There will be another day when the fish are biting and you catch the big one!  Yesterday, I hope you learned that it is not always the win that helps us to “make the best better!”


  1. wonderful Michelle. Your awareness and encouragement are wonderful blessings to all. I hope you do not mind, but I will have to share this post. Grace to You and Yours! Karen

  2. Good analogy. There are a limited number of prizes in life, but an unlimited amount of experiences to be learned. You gain more from a difficult contest where you don't place than from the prize freely given without effort.

    You did your Daddy proud, son. I love you!!!