Last week, David Benzel of Growing Champions for Life offered a free webinar entitled Solve the Mystery of Your Child’s Motivation and Distraction Issues.

During the 40 minutes or so that David spoke, he focused on the fact that inspiration and motivation are two very different animals – inspiration comes from the outside – for example, we might be inspired by reading a book about Nelson Mandela or watching the Olympics – while motivation is created internally as the pursuit to satisfy an unmet need.

Listening to David’s words took such a load off my mind!  I finally heard and understood why all my nagging and reminding and pushing falls on deaf ears.  There is nothing – not one thing – I can do to make my son take care of his responsibilities.  Not his school work.  Not his household chores.  Not his tennis training.  I can hold him accountable or punish him when he fails to do the things we expect of him.  And I can hope that the threat of holding him accountable or punishing him creates the internal need in him to keep his iPhone or use of the car or getting to travel to out-of-town tournaments which will, in turn, move him to action.  But, it all comes back to letting go, letting our children take on more responsibility as they mature, backing off from the nagging and reminding.  And it all comes down to our kids deciding how much they want to accomplish with their tennis (or other areas in their life) then deciding how hard they are willing to work – and how much they are willing to sacrifice – for those accomplishments.

So, while we can’t motivate our junior players, we can inspire them.  How?  Here’s what David advises:

  • Paint a picture of what you see in their immediate future
  • Tell stories of what others have overcome and accomplished
  • Help them see how far they’ve come on their journey
  • Help them learn a new skill
  • Celebrate progress

Okay, at least that’s something proactive that I can do, and, believe me, I have to have something to do!  It’s very hard for me to sit back and watch, to keep my mouth shut, to do nothing when I know my son could work harder, be more dedicated, sacrifice a little more.  But, this is his life, not mine.  I’m here to guide, to offer advice, to hold him accountable, and to love him no matter what.  So, I’ll take David’s advice and try to stop telling him what he should do and start doing more to inspire him to want to do more on his own.  I know, I’ve said that before.  I’m working on it.  I think I’m doing better than I was 18 months ago when I first started writing this blog.  I’m not sure my son agrees.

To watch a recording of David’s webinar, click here.  I have heard that the recording might not work on a Mac – my apologies for that!