Sam’s Story

A critical doer has a servant’s spirit 

A servant spirit is key in transcending the realm of critical thinking and moving to critical doing.  Thinkers illuminate the path, doers inspire us to follow the path. That’s why they are our heroes.  My oldest son Sam was a great example of how a servant spirit inspired others to do more than they dreamed was possible.

Sam was a swimmer in his youth sports and high school days, and a quite good one at that.  Sam had many successes as a swimmer but none made me prouder than the level of effort he put in every practice.  Joe Frazier once said the boxing ring isn’t where champions are made…it’s where they are revealed.  Champions are made in the wee hours of the morning when training begins, and no one except you knows if you are giving your best.  This is where Sam’s story of becoming a critical doer through a servant spirit begins.

For the Alabama State High School Swimming Championship in December 2008, Sam was given a daunting task as a senior and team captain.  Through a diligent process of critical thinking, the coach determined which swimmers had the best opportunity to score the highest in the events.  A swimmer is allowed to compete in 2 individual and 2 relay events.  Sam was asked to swim the 200 and 500 yard freestyle plus 2 sprint relays in a 1 day preliminary/finals format.  If you’re not familiar with swimming, suffice it to say this is not common.

The overall strategy for the team was brilliant and it gave a small team a chance to beat a very large team (more swimmers equals more opportunities to score points).  The brilliance of the strategy however only goes so far.  An individual must make a decision to move forward fully aware of the pain level about to follow.  Sam walked forward and began doing…not for individual recognition, not even for the points…but because his team needed him.

Sam scored well and his performances in the relays were crucial to his team winning second in the meet.  The entire team took their own ambitions and pain level out of the equation and gave their all to accomplish something special together.  I’m obviously biased in talking about my son, but I’d like to think his example as a senior and team captain influenced others to perform at a higher level.  I was inspired and will never forget that special day.

How many times have you seen a challenge and no one willing to step forward to do something…anything?  When a golden opportunity calls, do you respond with an antiseptic answer that says you are only capable of a unit of output with a unit of input?  These types of responses indicate you’ll do what is expected…a response like Sam’s says you’ll do what is needed.

Is there an opportunity right now, at home or work, where you need to subordinate your view of what’s expected to a sense of willingness to do what’s needed?  If you’re willing to make this your moral compass, you’re ready to become a critical doer.  Find that opportunity to think through a challenge logically and deeply, then step out to do what’s needed and inspire others with the beauty of the human spirit on full display like Sam did.  It’s what a critical doer would…do!

Updated: December 10, 2014 — 3:42 am