A YEAR in REVIEW – How to Look Back without Losing Your Way

Looking BackWhen a competitive season closes (or at the end of any long-running endeavor for that matter) it is important to look back over the experience carefully. Without proper assessment, we will miss lessons that could serve us well in the future. So how do we review and reflect without regret and remorse? Here’s how…

Students: Wait several days until after your national tournament has concluded. Then find a quiet place and turn up your favorite music through your most comfortable set of ear buds. Sip a refreshing beverage and use sunscreen if ultraviolet rays will be your lighting of choice. This process will take a good 30 minutes if done properly.

Now sit with your final ballots of the season and read them – every ballot; every word. Highlight all suggestions for improvement and honestly consider how to apply these suggestions to future speeches. Breathe deep and keep sipping. Try not to argue with the insights you see. Don’t deflect as you reflect. I call it “owning your ballot.” Talk about these observations with a coach, parent, or peer who has also watched your growth during the season and then discuss plans/goals for the future.

Good work. Now refill your drink and turn up the music – you need a break.

Parents/Coaches: It is worth surveying the students and families in your club at the close of every season. Create one survey for parents and another for students. Ask what worked and what ideas people have for making things even better in the future. Hold a simple potluck luncheon where the surveys can be distributed and discussed. Any variation of these ideas will do – make it as easy or fancy as you like, but do it soon. In a “sport” that focuses on communication, this exchange of information at the end of each season is imperative for good results going forward.  Use these surveys just as students do when they review their ballots. Incorporate and change what you can to make the experience even better next year.

Because here’s what I know…

We are often told “never look back” and “leave the past in the past.” Of course these sayings have merit as we cannot change the past, but we can ALWAYS learn from it if we reflect honestly with a resolve to improve. Here is additional perspective from other great thinkers…

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” ― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life 

“Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

All sorts of emotions are present now that we have finished the race – everything from elation to exhaustion. Take just a few more minutes before the summer begins and look back.

Then after you get plenty of rest, you’ll be able to readjust and look forward to continued success in the future.