The Olympic Games always inspire me. Strangely, this Winter Olympics inspired me to read a book. The book is Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence. This little Vermont town of about 3000 has sent 11 of their kids to the Olympics and won three medals. That is equal to the medal count of Spain and New Zealand combined. How do they do it? Let me quote from the book:
Norwich parents “treat sports as a family bonding exercise. They attend their children’s activities but they are easy to overlook because they remain in the background. They praise effort, not results, and send a loud and clear message that community trumps competition by embracing the success of children other than their own.” [emphasis mine]
Community trumps competition? That’s just crazy talk. Except their kids not only compete at the highest level in their sport, they finish college, get good jobs, and many return to the town that instilled those values so that they too can raise their children in that culture. I want that for my kids more than an Olympic medal. The message gets sent to us parents that in a dog eat dog world you need to train your kid to be the better dog eater. What would happen if in our network of friends we instilled this notion that community trumps competition? If you think that would turn your kids into doormats for the cutthroat world out there the parents of Norwich would like to have words with you. They’d like to, but they are probably too busy planning a welcome home party for one of their athletes.