My Daughter Teaches Me Resilience

My Daughter Teaches Me Resilience

My oldest daughter, Aria is on the track and field team at her school. She competes in the pole vault events and track events (100m, 200m, 400m). Over the weekend, her school had pole vaulting events which she participated in. She wakes up very early at 5 am and practices on her own at the school track. She does this 6-days out of the week. She was very excited to participate in the pole vaulting events and we even went out and got her a new pair of track shoes in hot purple and pink. She looked blazing fast just standing there.

In pole vaulting, you use a pole to help you clear a bar at a certain height. The vaulter chooses the height they want to enter the competition. They basically have 3 attempts to clear a height. If a vaulter clears a height, they move on to the next height where they have 3 more attempts. A vaulter cannot miss 3 consecutive times. If a vaulter misses the height, they can try the next height but they have 2 attempts at that height. If a vaulter misses 2x on a height, they can move to the next height but they only have 1 chance to clear the height. The winner is the vaulter who can clear the highest height.

On Aria’s first attempt, she ran down the track, planted her pole, and mid-way up her pole broke. She crashed to the ground with a loud thump as pieces of her pole scattered in the air. Watching it seemed like one of those slow motion scenes at the movies. I started to run to her and so did other parents and friends. Before we got to her, she stood up, shook things off, and went to get another pole.  She got about 5 minutes to get herself together and for the staff to clear the debris and the broken pole off the field. As she was getting herself together, she looked at me at the stands. Her eyes wet with tears and her face looking angry and disappointed. Her hair disheveled, knees scratched-up, and arms dirty.  I stared her straight in her eyes and she nodded. She nodded at me as to say, “yeah, I look a mess but I got this”.

On her second attempt, she ran down the track, planted her pole, and just when she was going to clear the bar, her back heal touched the bar and the bar fell. She landed on her back on the mat and bar almost hit her. On her back she started  to hit the mat with her fists and kicked at the mat with her feet. She looked like a turtle turned on its shell, legs flailing, and trying to get back up. She was definitely upset. Her coach went to her to help her off the mat. Aria had a decision to make. She either could try the same height for a final try or move to a higher height to try to clear that. I was thinking that she would try the same height. To my surprise, she choose to clear a much higher height. In my reasoning, why would you try to clear a much higher height if you can’t clear a lower height. It was her decision so I supported it.

On her final attempt, with a higher height and longer pole she ran down the track. With pole vaulting, speed is the key. You need to be fast enough that your momentum launches you forward when you plant your pole. It is your momentum that will catapult you over the bar. She ran down the track with her blazing, purple, and pink shoes which were blurry because of her speed. She planted her pole. She was launched into the air. Pushed off the pole at the top of height. She arched her back clearing the pole. The back of her heal skimmed the pole. The pole wobbled. I held my breath and so did all the other spectators on the stands. She landed on her back on the mat. The pole continued to wobble but stayed. The spectators were silent as to not blow air to knock down the bar. We then cheered simultaneously. She cleared the height. She ran out from the mat, raising her hands, and jumping up and down. Her team mates gathered around her and hugged her.

After the event, we hugged and I congratulated her. I asked her how she felt about the first 2 attempts. The answer she gave made me proud and thinking about it makes me a bit teary.

She said, “Daddy, I felt really awful with my first attempt. The pole broke. It wasn’t my fault. It was something that I could not control and I failed. My second attempt made me feel much worse. It was my fault. I could have lifted my ankles more or arched my back more or ran faster. I knew a had to do better. My team needed the overall points and I did not want to disappoint them or myself. So, I went bigger to challenge myself even more. And I won.”

“I know that I will not always win. I know that I will make mistakes. I also know that I needed to come back from behind and to fight until the last second. People depended on me to at least keep trying and eventually I will win.”

I was thinking about this the last several days. We need to be resilient. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

In any organization, there will be many challenges this year. People will fail on some things. People will make mistakes. At the end, we need to be resilient and bounce back from our mistakes and our failures. We need to be confident in our abilities and as Aria’s team mates gathered around her for support, we need to always support each other. When you feel beaten and when you feel like dirt, think of Aria – a 15-year-old. Her pole broke the first try. She missed the second try. But won on her third try.

Hope you enjoyed and maybe become a little more inspired and motivated.



Alden Mallare

Hi there. My name is Alden Mallare and I am currently a Software Development Manager. I've been in the software industry for over 15 years with experience in software development, software management, test management, and test automation. I am passionate about Agile and consider myself as an Agile Evangelist. On the side, I help churches build awesome websites. I also created MusingMashup.Net to share my thoughts and hopefully help others through my writing.
Alden Mallare

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